Posted August 13, 2018 by Norby Ela in Comics

5 Greatest Epic Comic Book Series that Brian K. Vaughan Has Ever Written

Multi-awarded Eisner awardee Brian K. Vaughan announced recently in the letter-page of Saga #54 that he and co-creator Fiona Staples need a year-long hiatus to attend some of their personal matters and most importantly, to “recharge” their artistic repertoires to deliver us more heartwarming and tragic tales of Hazel and company next year and beyond.

In the meantime, this is an appropriate time to re-read some of BKV’s growing list of opuses that are considered both commercially and critically darlings in the comics industry. In this regard, I focus on his epic series, aka the long series that run for more twelve or so issues that also garner him (and his fellow co-creators) important critical appraisals and comic awards, particularly the prestigious Eisner Awards. So, his other limited or “finite” series like his many superhero stints in Marvel and DC, We Stand On Guard, and Barrier are excluded. Here are my top five the writer’s greatest epics:

Runaways 2018


Started in 2003 with Adrian Alphona as the illustrator, the series ran over a staggering forty issues. This series centers on a group of teenagers called “The Pride” whose parents were sadly the antagonists and they needed to, well, run away from them. This one is significant for the characters like Nico Minoru, Old Lace, Gertrude Yorkes, Victor Mancha and others were considered fresh, if not original, in the time then superhero characters were becoming stagnant and repetitive in essence. BKV’s dialogues were already razor-sharp and witty in delivering jokes and prominently in angst moments, in addition of the well-balanced pacing of tender, action and tragic parts that would definitely be the creator’s trademark signatures in many of his future literary endeavors. Furthermore, “Runaways” and some of his works paved him one of his first Eisner Awards in 2005 as the “Best Writer” in comics. Proof of its quality of this seminal work, it was adapted into a cable-television series in Hulu in 2017.

Paper Girls 2018


Currently, on its twenty-third issue, fans and viewers of anything Stranger Things would definitely love this one as this is BVK’s love letter of anything the 1980s could offer. Pop culture references in music, video games, board games, television series, and even the supernatural and extra-terrestrial phenomena and conspiracy theories… they are all referred in Paper Girls, including the iconic bicycle newspaper delivery stuff. If one is already missing the Saga need, how about this one instead, but grounded in planet Earth. Similar to the previous entry, this series already won a couple of Eisner Awards in the last two years, including Best Colorist (Matt Wilson) and Best New Series categories. Quirky, fun, suspenseful, and nostalgic (for us some older readers around), Paper Girls is a perfect reading compliment after watching anything related to the often misunderstood but glorious Eighties era.

Ex Machina 2018


You want something more political, edgy and engaging read, I highly recommend Ex Machina. Running over fifty issues (including some one-shot “specials”) BKV (and artist extraordinaire Tony Harris) explored an alternative universe to answer a nagging question, what if there is a real superhero in a real world? Though this was already explored, it was the execution that matters and there you have it, a superhero named Mitchell Hundred who had the power to control and manipulate any machines within his ranged. He used his powers against a terrorist attack in the City of Lights, and eventually ran for mayoral post and won by the landslide. But that’s only the beginning. The succeeding arcs focused on the on Hundred’s entire mayoral stint that is anything but a walk in the park. Political intrigues, machinations, backstabbing, betrayals, Machiavellian tactics, and even an imminent invasion by other inter-dimensional beings are masterfully narrated by this Ohio-born maestro. Additionally, BKV treated history nerds/geeks/aficionados with tons of historical tidbits about New York history, especially the political spectrum. Thus, Ex-Machina is akin to watching The West Wing, House of Cards and to some extent, Game of Thrones in comic book form.

Y the Last man 2018


My penultimate entry is a contemporary of Runaways and Ex-Machina, Y: The Last Man (with co-creator and primary artist Pia Guerra). This is Brian’s second-longest series, sixty issues, and garnered three Eisner Awards, like Best Continuing Series in 2008. The title itself is a giveaway already. What matters here is the life, if ever, after all, males except two of the world are vanquished. The first story arc presents a feasible yet terrifying scenario in that regards, especially to the alpha survivors named Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand. Along the way, BKV and Guerra discussed issues on feminism, matriarchy, social commentaries and even science through the former’s witty and sharp dialogues of the characters. In typical BKV fashion, layers of conspiratorial thoughts, if neither theories nor assumptions are well-placed regarding what and why exactly the male protagonists were left behind. Never expect a clear answer here for this epic series’ true strength is its journey, the main characters’ directions towards their respective ends. Or better yet, the creative team’s ask us if a world of full of women a better alternative than the previous status quo? This is why BKV is his best for having us readers pondering such difficult what-if’s scenarios.

Saga 2018

#1 – SAGA

The obvious choice for the title magnum opus is none other than, well, SAGA! The reason is obvious. Saga so far won a whopping twelve Eisner Awards, including Best Writer, Best Artist (co-creator Fiona Staples), Best New Series and Best Continuing Series. Also, this epic opus still attracts unwanted controversies from the so-called concerned citizens due to its graphic contents like nudity, simulated sex, violence, and even mind-blown reason, being an “anti-family” book! Little wonder, Saga is regarded as one of the most “challenged” comic books right now, despite the fact that it is rated “mature” or for 18 years-old and above readers only. Additionally, it is still an ongoing series, and issue #54 is most probably not half-way through. Let’s just say BKV and Fiona Staples will go beyond the century mark in the 2020s. Saga is the truest sense the SAGA of all Brian’s epic stories he creates, writes and delivers so far. It also has a devoted fan-base and a large female comic book demographic readership due to the fact that this is a very well-diverse visual literature, highlighting the various species/races/nationalities/peoples and lots of strong and empowered women around (including the fact that Hazel the narrator is the focal point of this inter-galactic tale of anything humanity could offer). Like many of BKV’s works, politics, social and cultural issues are tackled here, further making Saga a magnet of controversies, which ironically a good thing actually for the creative team.

There you have it, folks, Brian’s greatest epic-run series yet. Lucky of us all of these are already available in TPB and hardcover editions, including in Omnibuses (both Marvel and DC) and Absolute (DC) forms. It is a sure way to mitigate our hunger for the year-long SAGA hiatus. I personally hope (and wish) Brian spares Ghus.

Norby Ela

Now residing in San Diego, CA, I strive to work in art and further grow FlipGeeks around the world.