Over the all-too-short summer you likely had any number of distractions to lure you away from your Comics Plus shelf, but we were as busy as ever adding a whole bunch of new comics and manga to our platform every week. Some were continuations of your favorite series, while others could be soon-to-be-favorites!
While I can’t speak to everyone’s tastes, I literally look at every comic we add to our ever-growing collection, and every week I pick the featured titles that appear in our curated Recent Additions list. I’m always finding a handful of new titles for readers of different ages and interests that stand out for one reason or another, and starting with this inaugural Summer recap, I’ll be spotlighting a handful of them every month.
For Kids of all ages, there were some charming new additions that are worth a look, starting with the adorable couple of Milk & Mocha (Andrews McMeel). While there may be an anthropomorphized version of writer/artist Melani Sie’s own relationships (depicted in lovable bear form) that grown-up readers may recognize, there is still plenty of universal appeal to the characters and their antics, and more than a few heartstring-tugging moments that fans of books like Chi’s Sweet Home (Kodansha) may appreciate as well.
For a more fantastical treat, we had Hotel REM (Dark Horse), which is sort of like Spirited Away meets Monsters Inc. (Tokyopop) with a whimsical European flair. Imagine taking over running a hotel where characters from any kind of dream imaginable come to stay when they don’t actually have a human’s dream to participate in — where bad service turns them into literal nightmares — and you’ll have just an inkling of the fun awaiting you!
For Teen (and above) readers, there are definitely a few worth pointing out courtesy of Image Comics. First is Huck Vol 1 (Image Comics) by the one and only Mark Millar — yes, of Kick-Ass (Image Comics) fame, and the equally Adults-only Nemesis (Image Comics) — but this story of a “simple” local superhero who’s about to have his secret identity blown seems absolutely determined to remain a wholesome tale, where the emphasis truly is on being a Hero. Still as whip-smart and laced with intrigue as any of Mr. Millar’s other works, it was actually quite refreshing “waiting for the other shoe to drop” and actually being disappointed… at least so far, this is just Vol. 1 after all.
For a different take on the superhero genre entirely, there’s Plutona (Image Comics) written by the great Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer, Essex County), which could be considered a great stepping stone for new readers discovering his work for the first time. A harrowing examination of adolescence and identity, Plutona asks how far some people who feel so powerless might be willing to go for even a chance at gaining superpowers.
But seriously, perhaps one of the coolest new books I’ve seen all summer is Kaya Vol. 1 (Image Comics), which I’d recommend to pretty much anybody. In a savage world of strange magic entwined with technological mystery and a plethora of monstrous foes, the two surviving members of a destroyed village must survive long enough to find both safe haven, and their destinies. With a slick style, gripping action sequences, and a gallery of spectacular characters, Kaya could very well be your next favorite read.
When thinking about older readers, narrowing the selections becomes harder and harder. It can’t be ignored that the original creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have returned to write The Last Ronin (IDW), the final chapter of TMNT’s dystopian future, where only one of the four is still alive. Meanwhile, fans of the slightly more contemporary Adventure Time (BOOM! Studios) may feel a special affinity for the magically surreal adventures of Grog the Frog (Silver Sprocket).
For manga fans, I can’t speak highly enough of Appare-Ranman! (Yen Press), which feels like a cool steampunk successor to Cowboy Bebop, and the eerie The Summer Hikaru Died (Yen Press), a body horror tale featuring the most ultimate of impostors… sure to appeal to fans of Parasyte (Kodansha) or Black Hole.
We also had some noteworthy LGBTQ titles, including the supernatural mystery drama, Light Carries On (Dark Horse), and a teen romance set against the tense religious and political backdrop of pre-civil union New Zealand in Four-Color Heroes (Fanbase Press), for which there’s a brand new Te Reo Māori translation coming out next week! Additionally, there were not one but two new graphic novels about female martial artists: Eight Limbs (Humanoids) is an action-packed, slice-of-life drama about a retired kickboxer’s relationship with a troubled teen she is asked to foster, while the brilliant The Bodyguard Unit (Lerner) is a biographical study of ju-jitsu practitioner, Edith Garrud, a pioneer in women’s self-defense and a pivotal figure of the suffragette movement.
For mature readers, there were some special treats for the art-lovers out there, like the finally collected, meandering saga of Richard Corben’s bizarre fantasy romp Murky World (Dark Horse). Not for the faint of heart — like his contemporaries Simon Bisley or Glenn Fabry — Corben’s art seems to continually strive to occupy a place where the beautiful and the grotesque mingle. Additionally, Murky World finds the artist working (for better and worse) with 100% freedom, and the results are a surreal masterpiece spun from the most base expectations the sword and sandal genre has to offer. In a similar vein, there’s Fire & Ice (Dynamite), penned by the illustrious Bill Willingham, which was also added to Comics Plus over the summer.
Speaking of Fabry, he’s partnered with horror legend Steve Niles to bring us perhaps one of the most horrific haunted house experiences ever visualized in comics. I’m not trying to be hyperbolic, either; Lot 13 (Dark Horse) is truly as engrossing as it is unsettling. There’s also the sci-fi kaiju classic, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (Dark Horse) by comic legends Frank Miller and Geof Darrow, which finally made its way onto Comics Plus in all its detailed, second edition glory! After you’ve luxuriated in that for a while, be sure to check out Sweet Downfall (Scout Comics), which feels like a surreal indie love letter to all of the aforementioned creators.
Honestly, that’s just a small sample of the great comics and manga added to Comics Plus over the summer. With literally thousands of titles to choose from, I could keep writing forever! Be sure to check in every month for more highlights from our recent additions, but for now here are some more honorable mentions for older readers that (mostly for space reasons) didn’t quite make my list, but you may also enjoy checking out:
- All Tomorrow’s Parties: The Velvet Underground Story (Humanoids)
- Night Cry (Europe Comics)
- Public Domain (Image Comics)
- The Street Angel Gang (Image Comics)
- The Shadows of Thule (Humanoids)
- Bitter Root Omnibus Vol #1 (Image Comics)
- Lovecraft: Unknown Kadath Vol. 1 (Ablaze Publishing)
Read All The Comics!
With Comics Plus, schools and libraries can offer readers unlimited access to thousands of digital comics, graphic novels, and manga from popular library-friendly publishers like ABDO, Andrews McMeel, BOOM! Studios, Capstone, Dark Horse, Europe Comics, Fantagraphics, Humanoids, Image Comics, Kodansha, Lerner, Manga Classics, Papercutz, Tokyopop, TOON Books, UDON Entertainment, Yen Press, and dozens more.
No holds, wait lists, or monthly borrowing limits—all at a price that won’t break your materials budget!
Rob Randle is the Production Director for LibraryPass, and has worked in and around the comic book industry in various capacities, including as a book reviewer for the NY Journal of Books, and a judge for various comic book industry awards—the 2006 Eisner Awards, among others. Before joining LibraryPass, he had been the Director of Publishing for iVerse Media LLC since 2010, and prior to that was a purchasing manager for Diamond Comic Distributors where he helped to manage the monthly Previews catalog for close to a decade starting in 2002. Additionally, Rob occasionally does freelance work as a comics creator, and is the author of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Serial Artist. Rob holds a B.A. of Illustration from the Maryland Institute, College of Art (MICA).