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Star Trek Manifest Destiny is Coming — buy’ ngop!

Star Trek Manifest Destiny #1 Subscription Variant at TFAW.comThe crew of the Enterprise is about to embark on their five-year mission to explore the unknown, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until July for follow their exploits! IDW Publishing has been publishing stellar Star Trek comics for years, and the upcoming four-issue Star Trek Manifest Destiny looks amazing.

We had the chance to chat with series writers Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott, artist Angel Hernandez, and the book’s editor, Sarah Gaydos, about their favorite Star Trek memories, where the idea for Star Trek Manifest Destiny came from, and what kind of action we can expect from the series. Read on!

TFAW: How did the idea of Star Trek: Manifest Destiny come about?

Mike Johnson: We aren’t doing a movie prequel this year, but we wanted to do another event-worthy series to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek. What could be more event-y than a showdown with the Klingons? And this time both sides are out where no one — human OR Klingon — has been before.

Ryan Parrott: The Klingons are seminal but we really haven’t gotten to see a lot of interactions between them and our crew in this particular reality. Since the comics have always been great for filling in the cracks or expanding on moments, it just seemed like there was an appetite for a story that could help justify all the upcoming bad blood.

Star Trek Manifest DestinyTFAW: Can you give us a behind the scenes tour on how you two worked together to write the story?

RP: Our stories always begin differently — one of us has an image we want to see or an idea we want to explore. This one started with — who’s the Klingon “Captain Kirk?” What does their “Enterprise” look like? How does the Empire explore? So we did some research into the Vikings and Mongols, just to establish a base — which helped flesh out our characters — then Mike and I start throwing the story back and forth until we’re both happy . . . or one of us just gives in.

TFAW: None of you is a stranger to the world of Star Trek comics, how does this story relate to or build upon your previous work in the Star Trek universe?

Angel Hernandez: My first contact drawing Star Trek comics was the Star Trek Green Lantern crossover. I felt very comfortable with the universe of that project. I had been drawing several series of superheroes at DC Comics and it was an exciting change. I really wanted to continue working in this universe and this project has given me the opportunity to keep doing it, and I love it.

MJ: We’ve shown the Federation and the Klingons mixing it up before, but this story raises the stakes because both sides are on their own, far from any reinforcements. The Klingon ship is a match for the Enterprise in size and power. This is probably the most intense battle we’ve shown in the comics yet, and the most personal.

RP: Up to this point, I’ve only ever done stories set at Starfleet Academy — so the opportunity to write the real crew on the five-year mission was a dream come true . . . and I finally got to cross “Scotty” off the bucket list.

Star Trek Manifest Destiny #2TFAW: I really dug Angel Hernandez’s art on Star Trek Green Lantern. Can you talk about your collaboration with him on Manifest Destiny?

MJ: I was lucky enough to work with Angel on Trek/Lantern and I quickly learned that he can draw anything a writer can dream up. We’re excited he’s on board for this event, and he’s already producing pages that make our jaws drop.

TFAW: What can you tell us about the new villain, Shotok?

RP: There are some great villains in the original series, but outside of Khan, they’re mostly races — Klingons, Romulans, etc. So our goal was to try and create a worthy adversary for Kirk — someone personal, who thinks and acts like he does. Shotok is an outsider who doesn’t conform to the traditional Klingon code of honor. And because of that, he’s dangerous, unpredictable, and a bit of a wildcard when he first encounters the Enterprise.

TFAW: How much research did you have to do for this story so you felt comfortable that you’d have a viable story set in the canonical Star Trek universe?

MJ: We really want the book to feel like a big summer action movie, so it’s not so much research but we’ve been thinking in terms of what cool epic scenes we want to see, how we want to pace it in a way you don’t always see in comics, things like that.

RP: Like I mentioned before, when we knew we wanted to see how Klingons explore, it was pretty obvious they wouldn’t do it the same way the Federation does. So we looked at examples in real history, aspects from all the different series and even stuff from expanded Klingon mythology — like “The Klingon Art of War.” Then based off all of that — we built the version that made the most sense to us.

TFAW: IDW is also producing Klingon Language Editions for the series? Who came up with that idea, and how can we thank them?

Sarah Gaydos: I can’t claim that we’re the first one to translate a Trek comic into Klingon (see: IDW’s Star Trek: Klingons: Blood Will Tell, and more!) but we just could not resist. We really want to highlight how badass the Klingons are, but also how incredibly deep their culture is — to the point where they have this fully fleshed out language. We’re working with several great folks from the Klingon Language Institute to make this possible!

TFAW: What kind of creative freedom did you have on this book, Angel?

AH: I have had total creative freedom. I had worked with Mike before, therefore I already knew where the lines were, but I have always understood very well what I wanted to convey in every page of script and within those parameters I have been able to move with absolute freedom. To agree with the rest of the team about the visual issues allows you to work more comfortably on the other aspects of the project.

Star Trek Manifest Destiny #2 Subscription Variant

TFAW: What influences did you draw upon for character designs in this series?

AH: Visually, I followed the parameters of the new films (J.J. Abrams) but I have referred to the classic saga in order to capture the essence of some species. And I don’t want to tell more to avoid spoilers.

TFAW: Was there a panel or page that was particularly challenging to draw?

AH: There is not any particular panel that has been more difficult than another, but in this comic there are many action scenes involving a large number of characters. Ensuring that it does not become a mess and that the reader can follow the sequence correctly is always a challenge for an artist. And this comic includes many of those challenges.

TFAW: Artists often sneak Easter Eggs into their work, whether it’s a wink to the fans, or including likenesses of friends/family as background characters. Can you clue us in on any you included?

AH: I do not normally include personal references in the comics I draw, but in this case I have included some environments that surround me, especially in the landscapes that can be seen in some scenes. I come from a volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (Canary Islands) and many Hollywood productions come to shoot here. It was logical that I successfully exploited those spaces to include them in the comics I draw and the places visited by the crew of the Enterprise often match with places that I can really visit.

Star Trek Manifest Destiny #2 Variant Cover by J.K. WoodwardTFAW: What is your favorite Star Trek memory?

AH: There are many special moments in the saga as for example, Spock’s death or the destruction of the Enterprise. I also find memorable the death of Spock’s mother and everything that happens around that. I think it is very emotional and, at the same time, a very spectacular moment. But, certainly, the encounter with the Klingons in the film of 2013, the whole scene is a moment that I love.

MJ: My favorite memory is playing with the big Original Series Mego figures when I was a kid. Real cloth uniforms! Giant blue phasers!

RP: For me, it will always be, “There Are Four Lights!” The majority of Star Trek episodes end at the exact same place they started — with everything pretty much back to normal. But that story — what Picard went through and his mental state at the end — it felt like it had resonance. It was such a strong performance (by both Patrick Stewart and David Warner), I just knew I’d never forget it.

TFAW: Who is your favorite Captain?

AH: Chris Pine. For professional reasons I have developed a very close link with him, he is almost like a coworker.

MJ: Can’t lie: Picard.

RP: Picard, 100% — but Pine’s slowly creeping up the ladder.

TFAW: What comics are you reading right now?

AH: Lately I do not have much time to read, but as soon as I have a moment, I’ll start with Saga and Fables. And I have accumulated Blacksad, Magneto, O’Boys, Hellboy on the shelf because I do not have time to read everything I would like, and that it is a lot.

MJ: I just read the new Asterix book. My favorite series growing up, and it’s still going strong.

RP: I can’t get enough East of West and Casanova.

We want to thank Michael, Ryan, Angel, and Sarah for an excellent interview! Make sure to order your copies of Star Trek Manifest Destiny, including the Klingon Language version, today!

PRE-ORDER STAR TREK MANIFEST DESTINY ISSUES

ORDER STAR TREK/GREEN LANTERN BOOKS

*buy’ ngop means “that’s great news” in Klingon, literally translated as “the plates are full.” Gotta love the Klingon Language Institute!

Are you looking forward to Star Trek Manifest Destiny? What’s your favorite Star Trek comic to date? Post your comments below!


New Comic Book Day — Reviews for Deadpool, Paper Girls, Detective Comics & Spider-Man

There are a lot of heroics in this week’s reviews, but also a bit of mystery. We picked a few of this week’s new releases that we thought were standouts. This is the fourth of our seven-part series of New Comic Book Day blog articles.

SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep as many spoilers under our hats as possible, but a nugget may sneak through to our reviews.

 	
Paper Girls comics at TFAW.com Paper Girls #5
By: Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang

This issue of Paper Girls is packed with a ton of story that will help to form the next issues and story arcs to come.

So many questions are answered as we finally find out who Erin’s mysterious teenage saviors are. Are they friends or foes? Will they help Erin back to her fellow paper girls? Who is the mysterious leader behind the adults hunting the younger generation, and why would they go to all these extremes to catch these kids?

As always, Brian K. Vaughan does it again with an amazing story out of left field that keeps us on the edge of our seats, and the amazing Cliff Chiang knocks it out of the park with his unique art and visual storytelling. [Steve M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Spider-Man #1 by Bendis & Pichelli comic book review at TFAW.com

Spider-Man #1
By: Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli

I believe in Miles Morales!

After facing reality bending events, Miles has to adjust to a whole new world as he joins the 616 Marvel Universe continuity after proving himself in the Ultimate Marvel Universe.

The balance of school, social life, and superheroics proves difficult for our hero, as it did for underdog Peter Parker, but Miles has come in to the main Marvel universe swinging!

The art is top notch, and the foundation for a long game story is being set out from the start. While not a great jumping-on point for those with no experience with the character, it is a solid introduction. Plus it gives ample reasoning for going back to check out Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and the Spider-Men crossover event to witness the great hero that is Miles Morales. [Casey D. at TFAW.com]

Deadpool Mercs for the Money #1 review at TFAW.com

Deadpool Mercs for the Money #1
By: Cullen Bunn, Salva Espin

From the writer of Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe and the artist that gave us Mrs. Deadpool, comes an absolutely wacky filled first issue of Deadpool and the Mercs for Money!

Deadpool has rounded up a group of the finest misfits to do what he loves and does best: Cracking one-liners while kicking butt and getting paid for it! He leads this misfit group on a simple mission: retain this mysterious box from a research facility and give it to the people that paid them. However, if anyone knows anything about this Merc with the Mouth, it’s that nothing ever seems to go his way exactly. The Mercs with the Money’s curiosity peaks and they just have to see what is in the crate they are transporting.

What is it??? What makes this so important??? Well, you will be just as shocked as I was. Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin definitely are headed in the right direction with this Deadpool series. I rate it 10/10 chimichangas! [Darcey M. at Universal TFAW]

Detective Comics #49 comic book review at TFAW.com

Detective Comics #49
By: Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin, Matt Ryan, Chris Sotomayor, Wes Abbott

We’ve always known Bruce Wayne as Batman, but the recent events we’ve seen in Batman and Detective Comics thrust Jim Gordon into the cape and cowl. Tomasi is striking gold here in a story that puts the new Batman squarely in an existential crisis. Jim’s always worked inside the confines of the law, but when a cold-case from his past comes calling, he begins to question his beliefs and ideals in conjunction with the liberties that come along with the suit.

Pasarin’s makes great use of space in this issue, and the city really stars as another character in what could otherwise easily turn into a “kick-punch” book full of non-stop action. I’m also really enamored by Chris Sotomayor’s colors on this issue. I think you’ll dig it. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!


Spider-Man Subscription Contest Winners Announced

Spider-Man #1 at TFAWWith the new Spider-Man series launching tomorrow, it’s time to announce the winners of our Spider-Man Subscription Contest!

  • Ryan B. from Knoxville, TN
  • Ash H. from Irmo, SC
  • Joshua D. from Columbia, SC
  • Steve S. from Sausalito, CA
  • Adrian W. from Alexandria, VA

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who entered our contest!

About the New Spider-Man Series:
Miles Morales has been doing the super hero thing for a while, now he’ll be a full-fledged member of the Marvel Universe. Swinging next to the Invincible Iron Man, the Mighty Thor and the All-New Captain America as a card-carrying member of the Avengers is an adventure!

ORDER SPIDER-MAN COMICS TODAY
VISIT OUR SPECIAL SPIDER-MAN PAGE TO SEE OTHER GREAT PRODUCTS


New Comic Book Day — Reviews for Spider-Woman, Hellboy Winter Special & Old Man Logan

I’ve been looking forward to this week awhile now. With the Hellboy Winter Special and Old Man Logan #1 dropping this week, we’ve had some pretty good reading at the TFAW offices and comic book shops. We picked a few of this week’s new releases that we thought were standouts. This is the third of our seven-part series of New Comic Book Day blog articles.

SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep as many spoilers under our hats as possible, but a nugget may sneak through to our reviews.

 	
Old Man Logan comics at TFAW.com Old Man Logan #1
By: Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino

The best description for Old Man Logan is if Marvel had a baby with Sin City. This story takes place right after the end of Marvel’s Secret Wars. With Jeff Lemire’s writing going hand in hand with Andrea Sorrentino’s art, you can definitely tell the dark tone this story gives off.

Going through issue #1, you have just as many questions as Logan. What is happening? How is this happening? Where am I? Why did this happen?! Don’t worry true believers, your questions will be answered…on the last page. Old Man Logan is back and has found his one sole purpose in this Universe. Is it revenge? Is it Justice?! You’ll just have to read to find out! [Darcey M. at Universal TFAW]

Hellboy Winter Special comic book review at TFAW.com

Hellboy Winter Special
By: Mike Mignola, Tim Sale, Chris Roberson, Scott Allie, Chelsea Cain, Michael Avon Oeming, Michael Walsh, Dean Rankine, Dave Stewart

I’ve been looking forward to the Hellboy Winter Special for some time now, and I’m happy to say that it does not disappoint. Tim Sale, folks. The living legend contributes the first of the four Mignolaverse vignettes contained in this issue. I fall in love with his art all over again all in a span of eight pages in Broken Vessels. Chris Roberson’s first ever Hellboy story, Wandering Souls, was incredible. I was captivated and am excited to see where he takes us in the months and years to come.

Chelsea Cain & Michael Avon Oeming’s Mood Swings was a charming HB romp. Focusing on a young Liz Sherman and a bout of teenage attitude, this story put a huge grin on my face. Rounding out the issue was Dean Rankine’s fun Lobster Johnson short, Kung Pao Lobster. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

Spider-Woman #3 review at TFAW.com

Spider-Woman #3
By: Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodríguez

Spider-Woman isn’t your the typical superhero book since it features a very pregnant lead. The eight-month jump in time post-Secret Wars allows Hopeless to skip over the how’s and why’s of Jessica’s pregnancy. It creates a realistic sense of danger and drama for the characters but there’s a good bit of humor in the moms-to-be versus a horde of Skrulls.

The art is the clincher for why I’ll come back. I loved Rodríguez’s stuff when he was on Daredevil, but he’s raised his game to another level. The splash pages depicting Spider Woman’s route through the space hospital are fantastic and brought to mind the trippy epicness of Jim Steranko with a definite splash of Kirby. The Kirby influence is especially strong on his depictions of the Skrulls.

A great combo of art and story, drama and humor, with guest stars and on-point characterization, this book has me sold on coming back for more. [Dustin M. at Universal TFAW]

Cry Havoc comic book review at TFAW.com

Cry Havoc #1
By: Simon Spurrier, Ryan Kelly

Cry Havoc had me sold at “lesbian werewolves” and thankfully the contents didn’t disappoint. The moment I opened the comic I was blown away by the art and had a vast appreciation for the change in art direction throughout the comic. The changes really bring you into the moment and make for a very immersive world. One moment I feel like I’m reading Jem and the Holograms with heavy saturation and bold color choices before being transported into the world of The Walking Dead with a muted color palate to accompany the somber mood of the scene.

This first issue is all about getting our story set up and developing our world. The refreshing and unique take on the supernatural is something I cannot wait to dive further into. It’s all well and good for every werewolf story to have common themes but I have a feeling these werewolves will be unlike anything we’ve seen in mainstream media. This comic has easily left an impression on me and I look forward to seeing this world and its characters develop further. [Megan W. at Universal TFAW]

What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!


New Comic Book Day — Reviews for Poison Ivy, Star Wars Lando & Adventure Time Ice King

This was a good week for comics fans. Not only did the big two ship some good books, but the smaller and indy publishers produced strong issues. We picked a few of this week’s new releases that we thought were standouts. This is the second of our seven-part series of New Comic Book Day blog articles.

SPOILER ALERT — We’ll try to be as spoiler free as possible, but they might creep in to our reviews.

Poison Ivy Cycle of Life and Death comic book review at TFAW.com

Poison Ivy Cycle of Life and Death #1
By: Amy Chu, Clay Mann

You know, I’ve always wondered what Dr. Pamela Isley would do if she were good for a moment. Cure some diseases, create new genetic advances, you know normal science-y stuff. It looks like that’s exactly what she starts off doing in DC’s newest limited series Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death.

Amy Chu does a great job setting up this series, you get a clear idea of what’s been going on before this starts, and you don’t really need much more than that, and I really like that. What starts off as a run of the mill discovery for Ivy, turns into what we normally think we’d see her doing with an old friend, and ends up turning her world sideways by morning. It’s an interesting start to this 6 part series.

It will be interesting to see where this takes Ivy. I hope that we see some more cameos. Especially from someone else in touch with “The Green” that has a limited series themselves. [Martin M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Star Wars Lando TPB review at TFAW.com

Star Wars Lando TPB
By: Charles Soule, Alex Maleev

Star Wars fans are in for a real treat as the Star Wars Lando TPB hit this week. Collecting the 5-issue run, this book is one of my favorite SW tales of the last couple years.

Soule and Maleev waste no time in getting Lando into trouble in this book — Lando and Lobot owe a lot of credits to some bad people, and their aim is to dig themselves out of this hole. Lando’s a con-man, a scoundrel, and a ladies man, and Soule’s grasp for the character shines through on every page. One of my favorite aspects of this book is in the small moments between the action (and there’s plenty); the banter between Lando and Lobot is crazy good.

As always, Maleev knocks us away with his art. Getting to see more of the SW universe through his eyes is an extraordinary gift that you shouldn’t pass up. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

 	
Adventure Time Ice King comics at TFAW.com
Adventure Time Ice King #1

By: Emily Partridge, Pranas Naujokaitis, Natalie Andrewson

Get ready for the brand-new Adventure Time Ice King miniseries based on the amazing ongoing Adventure Time comic from Kaboom! In this fun and exciting first issue, the Ice King is in a state of panic. Nothing can calm him — not his tubs and skins, nor his love for the art of the fridjitzu (the art of ice ninjas). He can’t even escape into his fanfiction omnibus of the Adventures of Fionna and Cake, because dun dun duuuuuuun! Gunter is missing!

The Ice King looks everywhere he can think of but turns up empty handed. Finally he goes to Wizard City to seek help from some of his fellow wizard friends and get back his Gunty-kins. Who has taken Simon’s little friend, and who will help him in the quest to find him and bring him back home? Don’t miss this six-issue series. Pranas Naujokaitis, Emily Partirdge, and Natalie Andrewson help to bring the Ice King and his subjects to life in his first series of his very own! [Steven M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!


Comic Book Fans Crown the Best Comic of 2015

Vote Now For The Best Comics of 2015
Over the last few weeks, we highlighted some of the best selling, most talked about series of the year for our Best Comics of 2015 posts. During a week-long voting period, fans got to weigh in and choose their favorite and help us crown the Best Comic of 2015!

Archie vs. Predator Wins as Best Comic of 2015 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comics at TFAW.com

Congratulations to Alex de Campi, Fernando Ruiz, Rich Koslowski, Jason Millet, John Workman and the rest of the team who put in long hours to bring us such a fun series to read.

Thank you to everyone who voted, we couldn’t have crowned the winner without you!

If you haven’t picked up your copy of the Archie Vs. Predator HC yet, or picked up the individual issues and are looking for a really great collection to add to your book shelf, we’ve got you covered!

ORDER YOUR COPY OF ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR TODAY
SEE OTHER BOOKS THAT MADE IT TO OUR BEST COMICS OF 2015 LISTS


New Comic Book Day — Reviews for Power Rangers, Secret Wars & Plants Vs. Zombies

Dozens of great new books hit the shelves each week, and it’s virtually impossible to read all of them. We’ve combed through this week’s new releases and picked some books that should be on your radar. This is the first of our seven-part series of New Comic Book Day blog articles.

SPOILER ALERT — We’ll try to be as spoiler free as possible, but they might creep in to our reviews.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comics at TFAW.com

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0
By: Kyle Higgins, Hendry Prasetya

It’s Morphin’ Time! BOOM! Studios just kicked off the new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series with one hell of an issue #0.

The series stars the original Rangers from the ’90s television series and picks up just after the “Green with Evil” story arc. While the tone and look of the book has been modernized a bit, the series manages to fit in plenty of the signature MMPR wit and attitude.

This book has some great art by Hendry Prasetya and Kyle Higgens nails the writing. As with any nostalgic fan, I was a little worried about this series, but issue #0 put me at ease — this is a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic. I can’t wait to see where they go with this series! Great for new and longtime fans as a jumping-on point to the world of MMPR. [Martin M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Secret Wars comics at TFAW.com

Secret Wars #9
By: Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic

…and then it was time! It’s finally here: the exciting end to the huge Marvel event, Secret War #9. Find out what happens when T’Challa wields the Infinity Gauntlet against the god Victor Doom in their epic battle for the fate of the world and everyone on it.

See Namor’s last heroic days alongside Black Panther! Be amazed at Reed Richards’ final gambit to save the universe! Will the Molecule Man help out? Does he even want to? And does he ever get a hamburger?! You’ll have to read to find out and see what events will shape the Marvelverse as we know it today.

Jonathan Hickman knocks it out of the park again with his ability to weave many intricate storylines together in order to create a wholly unique universe and pull us all along with him for the ride.

Esad Ribic’s beautiful art truly brings the Battleworld to life — and then brings it crashing down all around us. Get your Europe tape cued up, ’cause it’s “the final countdown!” [Steven M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare collection at TFAW.com Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare HC
By: Paul Tobin, Jacob Chabot, Matthew J. Rainwater

While this book is based on the hit video game and tells the story leading up to the events in Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, it’s also great for people who are new to the franchise.

I continue to be amazed at Paul Tobin’s chameleon-like ability to expertly tell stories from distinct genres. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is full of whimsy and humor, and is a great extension of Dark Horse’s other Plants vs Zombies comics. I’m a big fan of Ron Chan’s work on earlier PvZ books, and Jacob Chabot’s style in Garden Warfare really matches the earlier volumes — I’m a fan. As with previous installments, Matthew J. Rainwater delivers top-notch colors. He’s one of the best in the industry.

Goats! New plants! Future versions of Patrice & Nate! This book has a lot to offer. Collects the three-issue miniseries in an impressive hardcover volume. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!


Voting Opens For The Best Comic of 2015

Vote Now For The Best Comics of 2015
You’ve read our write-ups on the best comic book series of 2015. Now through 1/14/16, you have the chance to vote for your favorite and help crown the Best Comic of 2015!

For those who may have missed one of our Best Comics of 2015 articles, check them out now:

You can vote once per day now through 1/14/16.

VOTE NOW FOR THE BEST COMIC OF 2015


The Best Comics of 2015 – Part 5 of 5 – Indy Comics

The Best Image Comics of 2015

–UPDATE: YOU CAN VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE ONCE PER DAY NOW THROUGH 1/14/16!–

So many great comics hit the stands last year, and we’re looking to you to choose the Best Comic of 2015! What follows is the final article in a series of five Best Comics of 2015 pieces we’ve produced since December. Missed the earlier installments? Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, and Part 4. Starting tomorrow, you’ll have the opportunity to weigh in and help us crown the Best Comic of 2015!

Creator-owned series and indy publishers are great if you want to cast the shackles of shared universes and decades of canon. You’ll find some of the most creative stories and unique artwork in the pages books like these.

The Best of Indy Comics (in no particular order):

Lumberjanes comics at TFAW.com

Lumberjanes
By: Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Carolyn Nowak, Brooke A. Allen

Here’s what I told my sister-in-law about Lumberjanes: “It’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Baby-Sitters Club meets Camp Nowhere.” Here’s what I told my ten-year-old niece about Lumberjanes: “It’s about a five girls who go to summer camp and become best friends. While they’re there, they fight monsters, go on adventures, solve magical mysteries, and KICK BUTT.”

Far from being a kids’ book, the Eisner Award-winning Lumberjanes manages to be truly “all-ages,” appealing to kids and adults alike. All you need is a sense of whimsy and a love of adventure. The book has an energy that picks you up and carries you through every issue, and the main characters — Jo, April, Ripley, Mal, and Molly — are written so well that they feel like your real-life best friends. The art is both cute and sophisticated, using brilliant colors and great linework to evoke moods and emotions. On top of all that, this series champions diversity in a subtle, natural way. It offers characters and storylines that are outside of the box, giving all sorts of young kids the chance to see themselves reflected in their comics and imagine a more vibrant, inclusive world. It’s serious stuff, which is why it’s extra impressive that each comic is so damn fun to read.

This series is exciting, funny, and sweet — though it’s crawling with supernatural creatures, every issue proves that the real magic lies in friendship. With two collected trade paperbacks (and a third on the way), a hardcover deluxe edition, and 21 issues out so far, there’s plenty of ways to join this series. [Steven M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics at TFAW.com

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
By: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Cory Smith, Mateus Santolouco, Michael Dialys, Ken Garing

It’s been four years and 52 issues since IDW started its TMNT journey with Tom Waltz and Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman back in 2011. If you haven’t been keeping up with the series, 2015 was a good time to join.

Waltz masterfully blends previous incarnations of the Turtles together culminating in deep, and intriguing storylines. So even if you started with the comics back in the 80’s, or the cartoon of the ’90s or ’00s, you’ll find something to keep you coming back each month.

This year also saw a massive event that took the Internet by storm. Donatello was left to defend the homestead in TMNT #44, and was attacked by Bebop & Rocksteady (yeah, those ones). Although Donnie tries his hardest, and even with the help of Metalhead, they get them best of him. Find the issue or pick up TMNT TPB Vol. 11 to see for yourself.

This series has been one of the most consistently good series on the stands. With all the variations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mythos to pull from, it’s always cool to see how our favorite ancillary characters are brought in to the mix. [Martin M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Sixth Gun comics at TFAW.com Sixth Gun
By: Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, Bill Crabtree, A.C. Zamudio, Tyler Crook

We were spoiled this year. Not only did we get to see the beginning of the end of the the ongoing Sixth Gun series, but a host of great artists came together to contribute to the deeper Sixth Gun lore in the Days of the Dead, Dust to Dust, and Valley of Death miniseries.

Set in the wild west, The Sixth Gun is firmly rooted in western themes and settings, but it’s so much more than that. With elements of adventure, supernatural, humor, and drama, this series transcends the genre it’s built around. I cannot wait to see what Bunn and company have in store for the final three issues later this year. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

Red Sonja comics at TFAW.com

Red Sonja
By: Gail Simone, Sergio Fernandez Davila, Walter Geovani

Gail Simone is a modern legend. She has penned countless amazing comics for almost every major publisher and, most notably, had multiple essential runs at DC Comics (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Wonder Woman, and more!). Red Sonja is a classic fantasy/sword and sorcery character that, while still popular, was in need of something (or someone) special to push her into the modern, mainstream spotlight. It turns out, this whole time she had been waiting for Gail Simone. When this book was announced, it was suddenly a no-brainer: of course Gail should be writing Red Sonja! Why hasn’t this happened already?

And to no one’s surprise it is fantastic! Simone manages to tell a story that feels familiar and new at the same time, deftly marrying classic elements with modern storytelling sensibilities. Meanwhile, Walter Geovani pencils some haunting pages that will linger in your mind. Throughout this epic, the She-Devil with a Sword is taken to unfamiliar, dangerous places that will leave scars both physical and emotional. Along with new depth to the hero, we are introduced to several characters that are welcome additions to the mythos.

If you are a fan of Gail Simone, Red Sonja, or simply great comics, look no further. This is the perfect jumping-on point for new readers, with plenty of twists and turns for veteran fans as well! [Jeff B. at Portland TFAW]

Escape From New York comics at TFAW.com Escape From New York
By: Christopher Sebela, Diego Barreto, Maxim Simic

Christopher Sebela triumphantly brought Snake Plissken back from the dead in the ongoing Escape From New York comic book series this year. This is by far one of my favorite series published by BOOM! Studios in recent years.

The comic book series starts off 5 minutes before the ending on the first Escape movie, then with Snake on the run he goes to the only place safe from the USPF (United States Police Force) — Florida.

Sebela’s writing artfully captures all those colorful characters we saw in the ’81 movie without relying on tropes to tell a fun story that feels like an Escape story. Sebela does a great job creating the entirety of the state of the world that John Carpenter started to show us. This is one of my first reads every month, and I can’t wait for more of Snake’s adventures. [Martin M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Honorable Mentions:

Stay tuned to the TFAW Blog to see how you can help us crown the Best Comic of 2015. Voting opens tomorrow!

–UPDATE: YOU CAN VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE ONCE PER DAY NOW THROUGH 1/14/16!–


The Best Comics of 2015 – Part 4 of 5 – Image Comics

The Best Image Comics of 2015

–UPDATE: YOU CAN VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE ONCE PER DAY NOW THROUGH 1/14/16!–

Now that we’re firmly in the new year, and the effects from the champagne have worn off, we want to stop and remember the great books that were released last year. What follows is the fourth in a series of five Best Comics of 2015 pieces we’ll be posting through January 6. Missed the earlier installments? Check out Part 1Part 2, and Part 3. Starting January 7, you’ll have the opportunity to weigh in and help us crown the Best Comic of 2015!

Superheroes are all well and good, but if you want to dig your teeth into something with a little more meat, creator-owned series are where it’s at. With series for virtually any taste, Image Comics really pushed hard in 2015 to draw us in and captivate us.

The Best of Image Comics (in no particular order):

Rat Queens comics at TFAW.com

Rat Queens
By: Kurtis J. Wiebe, Stjepan Šejić, Roc Upchurch

Looking for a fantasy comic that is different than all the others? Like, WAY different? Good. Pick up Rat Queens. This book has all the classic high-adventure elements you would expect and so much more. Led by a cast of strong female characters, each issue is violent and vulgar but also has more heart than most series on the stands. Similarly, each of the four Rat Queens are fully realized, complex characters. They feel like real people, which is something many series seem to struggle with.

But who are the Rat Queens? Hannah, Violet, Dee, and Betty are a raucous, drunken, crass group of mercenaries and your new best friends. They are the Dungeons and Dragons party you wish you had. This book is a fantastic ride that you should hop on as soon as possible to see for yourself! So many people have thanked us for bringing them on board this series. [Jeff B. at Portland TFAW]

Birthright comics at TFAW.com

Birthright
By: Joshua Williamson, Andrei Bressan

After their youngest boy Mikey goes missing in the woods, the Rhodes family is torn apart. A year passes and someone shows up that looks like Conan knowing a little too much about the disappearance of little Mikey.

If you haven’t picked up Birthright by Joshua Williamson (Ghosted, Nailbiter, Illuminati) you are sorely missing out. One of Image’s best series continues this past year as we figure out about what happened to Mikey, and what could happen to our world.

I don’t read a ton of fantasy comics, but this one got me hooked from issue one. I’ve introduced this book to people who don’t typically read comics and comics fans who don’t really like fantasy series, and they’ve all come back and told me that they can’t stop reading this book. It’s wholly engrossing and transcends genres.

The first two volumes are available for order, and I can tell you the series has only gotten better with time. I can’t wait to see where Joshua Williamson takes us next. [Martin M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Bitch Planet comics at TFAW.com Bitch Planet
By: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV, Cris Peter, Clayton Cowles, Rian Hughes, Lauren McCubbin

Taking a page from the sexploitation flicks of the ’60s and ’70s and borrowing from the best that the sci-fi genre has to offer, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Bitch Planet is one of the best comic book series on the shelves right now. DeConick knows how to tell a violent, gripping story with gravitas, and is particularly talented when it comes to writing complex characters.

This series is all about power. The power we give up to others. The internal strength that one can tap in to. Societal power that forces us into different roles. Bitch Planet more than a comic book at this point. The team has expertly created a movement of Non-Compliance, and I can’t wait to see where they lead us. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

Fables comics at TFAW.com

Saga
By: Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

What more can be said of perhaps the best series out there? If the shelf full of awards Saga has won, it’s constant presence bestseller lists, or the series’ amazing reviews hasn’t convinced you to check it, out this blog won’t either. But seriously, go read Saga. Like, right now. We’ll wait… finished it yet? All caught up? Good. It’s awesome right?!

What other series blends fantasy and science fiction so seamlessly? What other series has such visionary art? What other series possesses the sheer charm of Saga? Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples come together and make a truly unique universe. It’s a crazy one, filled with robot royalty, magic using satyr people, dragons, living spaceships and GHUS! Oh and intergalactic space wrestling. Can’t forget that.

With all this insanity it’s easy to forget the best part of the series — the characters. This creative team’s real success is how endearing these characters are, even the “villains”. Nearly every issue has an incredibly compelling cliffhanger that has us readers on an emotional rollercoaster. And just like the intergalactic space wrestling, we live and die with these characters every issue. [Dustin K. at Universal TFAW]

The Wicked and the Divine comics at TFAW.com The Wicked & The Divine
By: Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, ‎Matt Wilson

Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie sucked me in, and I’ve been waiting with baited breath for each and every issue of The Wicked and The Divine, or WicDiv for short. There’s a huge cast of characters to follow, and Gillen’s world-building ability rivals J.R.R. Tolkein and George R.R. Martin.The series centers around two themes: Death and Fame.

The twelve (or possibly 13?) Gods are reincarnated on Earth every 90 years to to fight the world’s darkness, but the kicker is that they only have two years–after that, they’re dead. Fame is also a strong theme in the series. These Gods are both famous and infamous. Adored and revered. Hated and envied.Fantastic story aside, I swoon every time I crack open the newest issue.

McKelvie is a wickedly talented storyteller in his own right, with panel construction and linework that consistently has me taking a moment to think about what I’ve just seen. This series is also evidence that Matt Wilson is one of the best colorists in the industry. I can’t get enough of this series. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

Honorable Mentions:

Stay tuned to the TFAW Blog in the coming days as we’ll be posting our final Best Comics of 2015 lists. At the end, YOU will decide which one will be crowned as the Best Comic of 2015!

–UPDATE: YOU CAN VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE ONCE PER DAY NOW THROUGH 1/14/16!–