16 Best Graphic Novels For Adults (Review) in 2022

Brad Robinson
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The number of people who read graphic novels is on a steep rise. Now, there are more than a million people over the age of 18 who read graphic novels for any genre, be it romance, sci-fi, horror, or other.

Especially, the phenomenon of comic books wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for the hard work of the people who created the big titles that changed the comics industry in the mid-20th century. The creators of Superman, Batman, and many more are the people who took comics out of the pulp magazines and made them into a viable and popular content for any age group.

However, the 21st century graphic novels have a small selection of modern comic book authors who have won awards in the various comic book conventions. Here are the 16 very best graphic novels for adults.

NameCategoryProduct
WatchmenBest OverallWatchmen
The Halo Graphic NovelBudget PickThe Halo Graphic Novel
Batman: The Killing JokeUpgrade PickBatman: The Killing Joke

1. Watchmen

Our rating: 9 / 10

Watchmen

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Written by Alan Moore, this is a great story to read in this day and age full of fanatics and war. The world is about to end because an alien from and different solar system has come to earth to regain his powers after he was emotionally and physically hurt on Jupiter (in a war against earth that we lost) and hearing a psychic message from a little girl that he is meant to destroy earth. The only hope the earth has is that Dr. Manhattan, a superhero who is half human and half god has not fully realized that we are in trouble yet. As you can see, a complex story and one well worth the read if you like well crafted stories.

2. Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1: Precious Little Life

Our rating: 9 / 10

Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1: Precious Little Life

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Pros:

  • Colorful art
  • World is a work of art

This adventure story of Scott Pilgrim and his band of rollerblading sidekicks jettisoning around Toronto fighting evil exes and engaging in tasty vegan meals on the side is a must-read for comic fans.

Author Bryan Lee O'Malley's visual style is wonderfully detailed. His artwork has great depth and color. He knows how to use contrast, shadows and smooth colors to create interest and set mood. His character design is very innovative. His style is attention-grabbing and instantly recongizesable.

The story is very original and fun. You've got to respect the man for just saying out loud that he wants to make a story about a boy who fights his evil exes. It's just so unexpected. I love how the story plays with the "boy meets girl" and "boy loses girl/boy regains girl" story conventions. This comic stays true to its indie spirit and doesn't shy away from any giant-big-super-tragic-betrayal bubblegum pop story plot twists. The characters evolve and change over time.

3. Astro City: Life in the Big City

Our rating: 8 / 10

Astro City: Life in the Big City

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Pros:

* Beautifully illustrated

4. Batman: Year One

Our rating: 7 / 10

Batman: Year One

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Pros:

  • The breakdown of Bruce Wayne from the playboy billionaire to the caped crusader.

5. V for Vendetta

Our rating: 7 / 10

V for Vendetta

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Pros:

  • Intriguing post-apocalyptic story
  • The gritty art style fits well with the story
  • Shows the struggle that citizens have in a place ruled by an oppressive government

V for Vendetta is set in a future dystopian Britain, and it tells the story of the struggle of Evey Hammond, a young woman who was rescued by a vigilante named V.

The graphic novel starts with the protagonist waking up in a prison cell in London’s Larkhill Detention Center. It then proceeds to reveal how the world is, how the government modified society, and how this lead to the vigilante’s revolt against them.

6. Hellboy Library Edition

Our rating: 7 / 10

Hellboy Library Edition

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In January of 2015, Abe Sapien's journey changed forever. He was captured, tortured and experimented upon, causing the man to question his own origins and the nature of his kind. But the answers he arrived at were far more terrible than he could have ever imagined, and leave Abe determined to confront the race he used to be, now dead and buried deep beneath the shrouded waves.

7. Saga, Vol. 1

Our rating: 7 / 10

Saga, Vol. 1

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And my favorite graphic novels is…

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

We discovered Saga when it was on its first issue. When you go to a comic convention you always check out the booths with new releases and Saga has been impressive with its releasing schedule and rich storyline. There's action, there's drama, and it will surely make you laugh even though you don't expect it. The story revolves around Alana and Marko, two people from opposite sides of a war searching for the Hazel, their newborn daughter who needs a bone marrow transplant. Every character will somehow affect you and there'll be no character that you'll truly hate.

8. The Walking Dead

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Walking Dead

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Pros:

  • Entertaining
  • Easy to read
  • Exciting

The graphic novel series “The Walking Dead” first debuted in 2003 with its first issue on October 13, 2003.

The artistic and writing duo that created the series was Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore.

The story is told from the point of view of man named Rick Grimes. A sheriff from the mid-west, he wakes up in the hospital, feeling quite different than before as he realizes that the world seems to be a completely different place with the dead extremely alive.

9. Infinity Gauntlet

Our rating: 7 / 10

Infinity Gauntlet

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This graphic novel is great for anyone who isn’t the biggest superhero fan or isn’t a comic book reader but still wants to try something out of the ordinary. It’s a multi-generational story of Doctor Doom versus the Fantastic Four and the entire universe. It’s a great story and definitely a must read.

10. Batman: The Killing Joke

Our rating: 7 / 10

Batman: The Killing Joke

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Batman: The Killing Joke is a very influential graphic novel written by Alan Moore released in 1988. This book tells a dark and grim story of Batman and Joker.

In this book, Batman confronts Joker to see what is left of his sanity. The story of Batman: The Killing Joke is entirely based on Joker’s need to test his limits or stop him from his morbid obsession with one-upping Batman.

Years ago, Joker shot Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham police commissioner James Gordon. She later became Batgirl. She is now confined to a wheelchair. The Joker’s goal of affecting Batman’s life is fulfilled.

11. 300

Our rating: 6 / 10

300

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Pros:

  • The events of the graphic novel are just as brutal, complicated and fascinating as those in the movie
  • The artwork is beautiful
  • It was written by Zack Snyder

Rise of an Empire (graphic novel)

12. Wolverine: Old Man Logan

Our rating: 6 / 10

Wolverine: Old Man Logan

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Pros:

  • Very easy to relate to
  • A great storyline for any Marvel fan

This is a must-have graphic novel for comic book lovers. The story revolves around the character of Wolverine (known for his healing abilities). However, in this version he is extremely old and tired and is now battling with his own mortality.

The story is dark and mature, but appropriate for older kids. It is filled with virtually non-stop action, as well as some scenes that are violent and bloody.

13. The Hard Goodbye

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Hard Goodbye

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Pros:

  • Disturbing and very realistic
  • Amazingly drawn

If you are a fan of movie adaptations, you’ll be happy to know that Sin City is based on three graphic novels of the same name written by Frank Miller. If you’ve seen the movie Sin City, but haven’t read the graphic novels by Miller, this has almost the exact same storyline.

The story is about three men and a lady who go into to Sin City, a dirty and desolate town filled with mafia bosses and corrupt cops. With the exception of one town hero, you won’t find anyone outside the city who has even heard of it.

The four main characters are Marv, an overweight, tough brawler, and the man people call whenever something out of the ordinary happens in Sin City; Dwight, a savvy young man who is in Sin City to avenge a rape committed by Junior; Jackie, a teenage prostitute who gets entangled in the mess that is Sin City; and a kindhearted woman who knows more about the city than anyone else- Goldie.

14. The Halo Graphic Novel

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Halo Graphic Novel

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Pros:

  • Expanding universe of Halo
  • Nice art style
  • Adds to the Halo universe

This is a must-have for fans for Halo. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s no different here. It’s a great view of the Halo universe.

15. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes

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What do you really know about Death? What sort of person is Death and how does he/she/it behave? Is Death all-powerful? If not, what do you imagine Death is vulnerable to? What do you know about the Dreaming? All of these questions and more will be answered in this amazing graphic novel series.

The Sandman started as a comic book series in 1989, and the appeal of this series has not waned since its publication. The visuals draw you in, and the narrative takes you on a very deep and unique journey through the Dreaming.

The Sandman is one of the best graphic novels published in the 20th century. It has been said that it is probably one of the most powerful graphic novels created. The author, Neil Gaiman, created a stunning piece of literature because he doesn’t just want to tell a story, he wants to take the reader on a journey, and their artistic value is part of what makes the series so powerful. You need to also take into account that the author wrote with the person who created the illustrations; thus, giving the two a chance to collaborate and work together.

16. Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe

Our rating: 6 / 10

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe

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Pros:

  • The animation style looks really cool
  • A creative story

This graphic novel opens with the statement that there is a Deadpool for everybody. Basically, if you’re a fan of the character, then you will feel right at home with this story. But it won’t be for the squeamish.

Deadpool is Marvel’s most irreverent anti-hero. He has a penchant for breaking the 4th wall as he gleefully destroys lives and makes a mockery out of the Marvel Universe.

This graphic novel opens with him in an elevator. He’s just finished off a battle with Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and anyone else who got in his way. Now he’s in an elevator and needs a breather. He’s talking to himself, as is his wont. He notes that it’s about time he killed the Marvel Universe.

Conclusion

The graphic novel medium is proving itself to be a serious contender in the fiction and comic book industry. And why shouldn’t they? These books feature illustrated works of amazing stories that are as complex as those that are part of the literary canon. They’re interesting reads that create a whole new world of visual story telling and art.

There’s a lot of graphic novels out there to choose from, and finding the best books can be a challenge.

To make things simpler for you, we've created a list of the best graphic novels for adults. These are books that we've enjoyed individually and that we hope you will too.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
WatchmenBest OverallWatchmen
The Halo Graphic NovelBudget PickThe Halo Graphic Novel
Batman: The Killing JokeUpgrade PickBatman: The Killing Joke