New additions to Comics Plus

Spring is a time for new beginnings, and here at Comics Plus that can mean new publishers (like Mad Cave), or new formats (like Picture Books) — but my year-round mission is to keep up an old-skool tradition and make sure we always have new books available for every “New Comics Wednesday.”

If there’s a “new” theme amongst this month’s highlights, it’s to always be open to engaging fresh points of view. Subverting expectations can only help widen perspectives, especially when fiction, in particular, offers fresh opportunities with each new title we discover.

So let’s discover some more!


There are a number of exciting new selections available in our Kids category, especially if you’re in the mood for more cute fantasy tales — and we know many of your readers always are! Haru (Andrews McMeel) is the first in the new graphic novel series, which reads like a complete love letter to fantasy classics like Lord of the Rings; comics like Bone (Cartoon Books); and, of course, a healthy dose of contemporary animation influences thrown into the mix. You might even be forgiven for suspecting this quirky story of being set in the same world as Adventure Time (BOOM! Studios), as the book’s subtle post-apocalyptic backdrop is similarly divorced from any real dystopian themes, instead serving more like “ancient ruins” to be traversed during the fantastically epic hero’s journey two best friends (a bird and boar) embark on together. The duo encounters an increasingly adorable supporting cast along the way, as well as a few scary entities, more than one close call, and maybe even a lesson or two. I think this one could check all the boxes for even the most reluctant reader, though hopefully Comics Plus is helping ensure there are fewer of those in your library.

My top pick for young readers is going to the wildly energetic Shepherdess Warriors (Ablaze Publishing), which is just the sort of comic we’re likely to see as an animated feature one day. There are certainly influences from any number of animation sources (Disney, Dreamworks, Cartoon Network, and Studio Ghibli, just to name a few), but it still manages to create its own unique style that, yes, really is just begging to be animated. And while it certainly plays to many of the same tropes you’d expect from any of the aforementioned properties, what I found most successful was the simple way the story’s reversal of gender roles in a classic fantasy setting manages to illustrate over and over the intrinsic unfairness when the opposite situation is true. Here’s yet another fine addition to the growing sisterhood of fairy tale trope-inverting comics like Princess Princess Ever After (Oni Press) and Another Castle (Oni Press), and one that boys and girls of any age really should be encouraged to give a chance.


We Survived the Holocaust: The Bluma and Felix Goldberg Story (Tree of Life Books) joins other important Holocaust survivor titles for Teen readers like We’ll Soon Be Home Again (Dark Horse), Irena (Oni Press), and Lily Renée, Escape Artist (Lerner). Well-researched yet succinct, this graphic novel does an excellent job of straddling the gap between the larger political decisions occurring in Europe during WWII, and how their implications trickled down to affect the lives of the titular Goldbergs — and ultimately their descendants.

My top Teen pick, though, may really just be for how much it ended up pleasantly surprising me by the end, and it could be a sleeper hit for other readers, too: The Quarry Vol #1 (Scout Comics). When the tragic death of a teenage boy leaves a gaping hole in the lives of those around him, we’re treated to an unflinching, heart-wrenching exploration of shared heartache, but also of distance, longing, and silent grief. As cathartic as it is cautionary, this is one of those poignant slice-of-life dramas that might make you feel a bit more grown up, or maybe at least a bit wiser, by the end of it.


I’m always a fan of a well-researched historical drama, even (or maybe especially) when the author has to fill in some of the gaps. A wonderful example of this can be found in The Golden Voice: The Ballad of Cambodian Rock’s Lost Queen (Humanoids), an exploration of the tumultuous life (and presumed death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge) of Ros Serey Sothea, the famous singer who suffered persecution for spreading unwanted “Western influence” through her music. Each panel is full of details that easily help put you into that fascinating time and place, and while the graphic novel already reads like the storyboards for a movie biopic, the reading experience is all the more immersive courtesy of an additionally provided playlist featuring music recorded by the artist and her contemporaries. Each of these tracks are matched to the various scenes that play out in the graphic novel, which should certainly pair quite nicely with the movie in your head they both create.

I’ve always loved Sandman, Murder Mysteries (Dark Horse), Pizzeria Kamikaze (BOOM! Studios), and similar kinds of “weird afterlife” stories. It’s also a premise that can (and has) easily disappoint, though, so I was honestly pleased with how much I enjoyed the original take presented in The Hazards of Love (Oni Press). When a troubled non-binary teen is tricked into swapping lives with a mysterious talking cat, they find themselves thrust into a surreal and confusing world of flesh-eating monsters who actually use human memories as their currency. Now forced to hustle to survive, what unfolds is unsettling, but infused with a dry humor that carries throughout and manages to keep a spark of hope alive, even as the stakes become progressively weirder and darker, and I can’t remember the last time I encountered a villain quite as charmingly intimidating as the El Ciervo character. It’s a twisted, fun, clever read that I honestly didn’t want to end.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the biggest powerhouse to hit Comics Plus last month. I’m showing my age again, but I remember back in the aughts when Scott Pilgrim (Oni Press) was just the budding little B&W indie book that could. Now, collected in three full-color omnibus editions, you can read the entire epic saga of “hyper-cool” Scott’s battles against his girlfriend Ramona’s evil exes… a premise which only makes sense within the “video game logic” of the story. It’s important to read this one all the way through, as (spoiler alert) maybe Mr. Pilgrim isn’t quite the awesome guy he thinks he is, and may even belong in that cadre of evil exes himself. I always liked his supporting cast more anyway (and didn’t really care for the movie adaption, either), but it remains a super-fun read, and I’m glad we finally have it available for many of your readers to enjoy, too.


For our mature readers, there are a number of interesting choices. Fans of urban fantasy are sure to get a kick out of Dahlia in the Dark (Mad Cave), which blends crime, espionage, and folklore to spin a tale of a runaway fairy princess who needs a mob courier’s help to escape government agents, changeling assassins, and worse. Similarly, Code 45 (Scout Comics) is a different kind of urban fantasy, and Joe Ng’s subterranean visions of raves and dragons is worth the price of admission for his art alone. Additionally, Sharp Wit and the Company of Women (A Wave Blue World) is an entire anthology dedicated to bad-ass female characters in various fantasy stories, suffused with just as much lust and bloodshed as your favorite Cimmerian (Ablaze Publishing) is likely to get up to in an average day. Cute has its place, but it’s nice to see the aforementioned growing sisterhood stretch its wings a bit and stray into some edgier territory as well.

Adversary (Silver Sprocket) offers a more serious perspective; a challenging exploration of power, fear, violence shown through the unique lens of a budding yet strained, and often troubled relationship between a newly out gay man and their recently transitioned former self-defense student. Rife with tension, frustration, and anguish, each panel feels absolutely ready to explode — until one finally does. This one’s far from a casual read.

Finally, I couldn’t help but fall into (weird) love with the sci-fi romance Star-Crossed (Humanoids), which (as the name implies) feels something like Arrival meets Romeo & Juliet — but maybe if it was directed by David Cronenberg. When a highly advanced alien species initiates diplomatic talks with Earth, it’s a first-contact-becomes-interspecies-romance situation that evolves in ways which are equally touching, sensual, and downright icky (sometimes all at the same time), as only Humanoids can do. There’s a reason this one sits comfortably in our Adult section, right next to all the other awesome, edgy books we have available for the brave… and the curious.

Honestly, that’s just a small sample of the great comics and manga added to Comics Plus last month. With literally thousands of titles to choose from across a wide range of genres, I could keep writing forever! Be sure to check in every month for more highlights, and browse our expanding list of past Rob’s Advisory selections.

Until next month, here are some more honorable mentions that (mostly for space reasons) didn’t quite make my list, but you may also enjoy checking out:

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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).