Welcome to “5 for the Fandom,” our new ComicsVerse weekly series! Every week, we take your favorite fandoms from all across nerd culture and suggest five comic book series that mesh well with the tone, characters, and visual aesthetics of the original property. This week, we take a look at comics that relate to the bombastically high action of the BORDERLANDS video games!

We are drowning in shell casings in this weeks “5 for the Fandom,” folks! Borderlands is one of my favorite video game series of all time. While some may argue the series lacks something in game mechanics, Borderlands has exploded into the hearts and minds of its players. From raging psychos to ‘roided up Gunzerkers and killer alien assassins, the player controls one of the universe’s ultimate badasses in their search for the ultimate alien lock box: Vaults. Humor, psychosis, and ’80s action one-liners abound in the violent world of Pandora. With Borderlands 3 being developed by Gearbox, the only way I can fathom to pass the time until release is with some equally amazing comic books.

Strap on in, check your mags, and prepare to hunt some Vaults!

1. EAST OF WEST by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

One of the most interesting aspects of Borderlands’ alien worlds is the strange blend between the rusted, haphazard aesthetic of the American West and the pristine quality of high science fiction. At its best moments, Gearbox focuses most heavily on this “Space Western” aesthetic. The art style creates a world that feels both wholly futuristic and terribly worn down. If this particular design catches your fancy, then Image Comics’ EAST OF WEST may be the perfect series for you. EAST OF WEST takes place on an alternate Earth hundreds of years in the future. On this Earth, the American Civil War never truly ended. It spiraled out of control until the country was split into seven separate territories. In 1908, violence ceased when a meteor fell to Earth, and a treaty was signed at its landing place.

READ: Want more high action Image goodness? Then check out GOD COUNTRY!

Borderlands
Courtesy of Image Comics

EAST OF WEST reads like a high action western. Though it doesn’t share Borderlands’ humorous tone, EAST OF WEST’s setting is a perfect match. Also, both world’s offer a surprising element of the supernatural. In Borderlands, while the Hunters seek the Vaults, they meet the Pandoran precursor species, the Eridians. Their technology evolved to the point where one couldn’t differentiate between science and magic. With this, they developed the Vaults. In EAST OF WEST, magic comes from our main characters — the literal Horsemen of the Apocalypse! We follow Death as he seeks revenge against his siblings for destroying his Earthly family. Apparently, powerful spirits aren’t supposed to fraternize with the common folk.

The high stakes technopunk world of EAST OF WEST is still ongoing, with Vol. 7 soon to release from Image Comics. That leaves plenty to read before BORDERLANDS hits the screen again!

2. I HATE FAIRYLAND by Skottie Young

Can I be honest with you? The greatest character in all of Borderlands lore is Tiny Tina. This young girl, with an affection and talent for high explosives, is so twisted, so deadly, so incredibly bonkers that you can’t help but love her. Everything good about Borderlands is reflected in that little psychopath and that makes me very happy. But I bet you didn’t know that Tiny Tina isn’t the only violent and potentially insane preteen in pop culture. Gertrude, the lead of Skottie Young’s I HATE FAIRYLAND, takes the words of the comic’s title to heart as she paves a path of destruction through the candy cane forests and singing magical residents of Fairyland.

READ: You should definitely be reading I HATE FAIRYLAND! But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s another writer’s take on this chaotic brilliance!

Borderlands
Courtesy of Image Comics

Gertrude was ten when she was sucked through a portal into Fairyland. She was told that she only needed to find a mystical key to open the door back to her world: a fun adventure that should take only a few days to complete. Twenty-seven years later, Gertrude is stuck in Fairyland, unable to age and growing more violent with each passing day. Most sources describe I HATE FAIRYLAND as a black comedy. As Gertrude descends into the depths of her own madness and slaughters innocent fairy creatures, you feel like a terrible person for laughing. Because you are laughing, I can guarantee it. Let me ask, though. Were you laughing while conspiring to blow up a train with Tiny Tina? Probably. The violence is so over-the-top and, dare I say, silly, that it never feels gratuitous.

I HATE FAIRYLAND has run for 15 issues, but it is still ongoing. You’ll definitely want to start with I HATE FAIRYLAND vol. 1! Do yourself a favor, Borderlands fans, and read this book!

3. X-O MANOWAR by Matt Kindt and Tomas Giorello

I have been a huge fan of the Valiant Universe for years now. Their more realistic take on the superhero genre has deeply interested me. However, I couldn’t quite attach to Aric of Dacia, the man who would become X-O Manowar. Aric was a soldier for the Roman Empire, but an alien race known as the Vine captured him and experimented on him. When Aric escaped, he took with him Shanhara, a high tech power armor. This armor essentially made Aric a combination of Iron Man and Superman, giving the hero a shape-shifting suit of armor and laser weapons. I didn’t catch the character’s appeal until 2017’s refocus on the character, which is a story I fell in love with immediately.

READ: Valiant Comics has an exciting year ahead! Check out all the latest news on DR. MIRAGE and other Valiant heroes!

borderlands
Courtesy of Valiant Entertainment

One of Borderlands key conflicts is the eternal battle between the Vault Hunters and weapons manufacturer Hyperion. This ultra powerful company rules Pandora with an iron fist in the second game and goes to war with the Vault Hunters. Similarly, X-O MANOWAR sees Aric at war with not one but several warring kingdoms. Aric of Dacia retired to a faraway alien planet, got married, and buried Shanhara under a hill. However, when his kingdom’s leader drafts him into a massive war that has nothing to do with him, Aric must don Shanhara again to go to war. While tonally different, X-O MANOWAR’s plot follows many of the most powerful plot threads of Borderlands and questions the credo of “might (and money) make right!” Not to mention, the planet in X-O MANOWAR pretty closely resembles Pandora!

X-O MANOWAR is only in its eighth issue, but the character is old as dirt. The 2011 reboot of the Valiant Universe is a great place to start, but the 2017 run is truly one of the best comics out there.

4. HEAVENLY BLUES by Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo

One of the newer entries on this list, HEAVENLY BLUES is a perfect match for anyone who loves Borderlands’ dark comedic tone. HEAVENLY BLUES takes place in the fiery pits of Hell. A ragtag group of damned souls must traverse the plains and enter the gates of Heaven to steal an ancient angelic artifact. This team of thieves comes from all periods of times, and they have to do battle with the resident psychos of Hell to find this incredible treasure. Amidst this team of Hellions are a murderous preteen Salemite, a Prohibition gangster, and a Japanese samurai addicted to Hell drugs. Yes, that’s right: Hell drugs.

Borderlands
Courtesy of Scout Comics

For fans of Borderlands, the parallels in the plot should be clear. Both feature teams of complicated and strange characters from many different whacky backgrounds. However, the heart of this comparison lies in the similar tones. Ben Kahn infuses each page of HEAVENLY BLUES with a heavy tongue-in-cheek humor. Kahn’s Hell is not the dark realm of torture. It’s boring, plain and simple, and that leads to incredible character moments where they discuss the sheer Hell that is, well, Hell. Similarly, the residents of Borderlands constantly poke fun at the terrors of Pandora. The question on everyone’s lips? Why would ANYONE want to live there?

WATCH: Want to learn more about Ben Kahn? ComicsVerse caught up with the writer at FlameCon for an interview! Here’s what he had to say!

HEAVENLY BLUES comes from Scout Comics and is still ongoing. Issue #2 has been released, while issue #3 will come out September 27th.

5. LOOKING FOR GROUP by Ryan Sohmer and Lar DeSouza

Who wasn’t a fan of Borderlands 2’s DLC “Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep”? This parody on the famed RPG Dungeons and Dragons epitomizes the strong comedy and characterization of Borderlands’ writing. Through leading a hilarious game of Bunkers and Badasses, Tiny Tina also attempts to deal with her depression over the death of father figure, Roland. A fantasy webcomic series that reflects the serious usage of comedy is LOOKING FOR GROUP. In this series, a young elf named Cale’Anon learns of a great destiny awaiting him and sets out into a fantasy world with a great crew of fellow heroes. Or, in the case of the great warlock Richard, they may only be grudging heroes.

Borderlands
Courtesy of Ryan Sohmer

READ: Are you a fan of GAME OF THRONES? Then here are 5 comic book recommendations to tide you over until Season 8!

LOOKING FOR GROUP is perfect for Borderlands fans because it is a hilarious romp through a wide open fantasy world. However, below this comedic surface is an epic and archetypal fantasy tale that almost any fan of the genre can enjoy. With over a thousand pages of the story already online and more coming out every week, Sohmer’s fantasy story has defined the potential of webcomics. For fans of Borderlands, you will fall in love with the humor and fun held in these pages as well as the morally questionable lead characters.

Honorable Mention: KINGSWAY WEST by Greg Pak and Mirko Colak

If these series don’t catch your fancy, then maybe KINGSWAY WEST will. Like EAST OF WEST, KINGSWAY WEST takes place in an alternate America during the Civil War era. Instead of gold, miners discovered a mysterious stone called “red-gold.” This stone thrums with magical power, and the many territories of the United States want them for themselves. Kingsway Law was a talented soldier for the Chinese kingdom until he found a small farm in the American West and fell in love with Sonia, the farm’s owner. After years of married bliss, the fight for red-gold comes roaring onto his doorstep. Kingsway Law must fight for his wife’s safety from outlaws and politicians alike in this Weird West tale.

borderlands
Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

READ: Learn more about ZEBRAMAN, Japan’s surprisingly good superhero film, at ComicsVerse!

Fans of Borderlands will fall in love with KINGSWAY WEST’s setting. The reason this does not rank on the full list is that it is very similar in tone, theme, and setting to EAST OF WEST and X-O MANOWAR. Though it does not take place in the far future or on an alien planet, all three properties share a similar “Weird West” setting filled with gunslingers and high magic. Also, with only four issues out, the story doesn’t quite have the scope of the epic storylines of the other comics on this list. Though you can read it in a sitting, I still recommend the series. KINGSWAY WEST’s combination of high action and arid setting should feel familiar to any and all Borderlands fans.

KINGSWAY WEST is no longer running, but a full trade paperback collecting the first four issues is available.

BORDERLANDS 3 may not be available for a long while, but hopefully these fun and unique comic books series will tide you over until release. With so many great options, you can’t go wrong. Leave a comment down below to let us know which of these stories you are going to pick up!

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