I'm afraid the bar to entry for lettering is quite high — there's no special reason why Illustrator should have high-level typographic controls that are missing from cheaper software, but it's generally true. There are people lettering at pro-level using CorelDraw, and small press/indy guys using share/freeware like Inkscape. As PJ notes, MangaStudio/ClipStudio has recently updated its text handling — it's better, but it's still not great.
The most credible Illustrator alternative right now, for my money, is Affinity Designer from Serif. Designer is (I'm afraid) Mac-only right now, but Serif have announced that a Windows version is a high priority with a public beta due "in the summer". I'd assume the Windows version would be the same price as the Mac — £40 for a perpetual license, free updates guaranteed for at least one year.
(Affinity Photo is an equally credible Photoshop contender, BTW, and well worth a look. The quality of both these packages makes me very hopeful for the their DTP package — Affinity Publisher — which is due by the end of 2016…)