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    You Choose The Best Comic Book of 2016

    Best comics of 2016

    A lot of amazing books have come out in 2016. With Marvel revitalizing their line, DC’s Rebirth, to so many independent and creator-owned books dominating the stands, 2016 has certainly been a comic book year to remember.

    With that in mind, the staff at TFAW took a look at sales numbers, fan buzz, and our personal favorites of the year to create a list of the 25 best comics of the year. Now we want you, our awesome customers, to vote on this list to decide definitively what the best books of 2016 are.

    Voting will take place from Jan 1st through Jan 31st, so head on over to our  Facebook page  and cast your vote. Let your voices be heard and recognize all these amazing creators and publishers for all their hard work.

    Superman Vol. 01 Son of Superman
    By: Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Patrick Gleason
    The New 52 Superman is dead, but hiding among us for years was the original Big Blue. Now, a world without a Superman is in desperate need for Clark to leave the good life on the farm with Lois raising their son. This story simultaneously brings Superman back to formula, but also takes him in a direction he’s never really been before.

    Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch
    By: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Taki Soma
    Powerful and gut-wrenching, Bitch Planet continues to explore themes of patriarchy and non-compliance. A must read for SJWs, feminists, and people who truly appreciate comics as an artistic medium.

    Wonder Woman TPB Vol. 01 The Lies
    By: Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, Matthew Clark
    Wonder Woman has been interpreted in many ways over her 75 year existence. Instead of trying to hide this, Greg Rucka’s approach is to embrace this to try and get to the real heart of who Wonder Woman is. Not just a great jumping on point for new readers, but a definitive take on the character that will hold true for years to come.

    Black Hammer Vol 1: Secret Origins
    By: Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart
    Black Hammer is another in a long line of grand ideas by one of comics brightest stars, Jeff Lemire. This book has a unique take on superheroes and the art by Dean Ormston & Dave Stewart instantly ensnares the reader.

    Rough Riders Vol. 1
    By: Adam Glass, Pat Oliffe
    History in the making! Teddy Roosevelt, Jack Johnson, Annie Oakley, Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison make up an American dream team engaged in an epic shadowy war! Monsters and Mayhem folks!

    The Mighty Thor Vol 1: Thunder in Her Veins
    By: Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman
    Marvel is changing things up by casting Dr. Jane Foster as the new Thor. The goddess of thunder shines in this series as she comes to grips with heroism and her own mortality. Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman are the perfect pairing. Also: Loki.

    Divinity II
    By: Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine, Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic
    After Abram came crashing home in Divinity vol 1. Spending his entire life in the depths of space, Divinity II tells the tale of Myshka. Still beliving in the Communist ideal. She intends to play a very real role in the return of Soviet glory

    Old Man Logan Vol 1: Berserker
    By: Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino
    What happens when an older, more gruff version of Wolverine comes to the main Marvel Universe? A whole lot of fighting. He’s on a mission to to prevent a terrible future from happening. Andrea Sorrentino’s art is breathtaking.

    Detective Comics Vol. 01 Rise of the Batmen
    By: James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Al Barrionuevo
    Batman is notorious for being a lone wolf (bat?), but he’s always had his family behind him. Now it’s time to take the Bat-Family to the next level. Lead by Batwoman, Batman puts together a team of Red Robin, Orphan (Cassandra Cain), Spoiler, and Clayface to be ready for whatever threat comes Gotham’s way.

    Vision Vol 1: Little Worse Than Man
    By: Tom King, Kevin Walsh, Mike Del Mundo
    Vision has the perfect family: a wife, two kids, and a dog. Look elsewhere for over-the-top nonstop heroics; this book proves it’s the little moments that matter. Truly impeccable dialogue and top-notch art await!

    March Book 3
    By: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
    The third and final installment in civil rights activist John Lewis’ story in the battle for civil rights in the United States. 1963 was an incredibly turbulent time in America’s history, and John Lewis was not only in the middle of it, but a leader in getting us out of it, long before becoming a congressman. March will remind you there are real heroes in this world.

    Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol 1: Black Squadron
    By: Charles Soule, Phil Noto
    With crisp and clean art by Phil Noto, Poe Dameron is one of the most beautiful of Marvel’s new Star Wars comics. Charle Soule explores Dameron’s uncanny skills and matching bravado.

    Paper Girls Vol. 2
    By: Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang
    Continuing where Vol. 1 left off, the misfit group of paper girls from 1988 find themselves transported to present day. Our main characters are forced to look at who they are, and who they may…or may not become. This superstar team continues to tell one of the craziest sci-fi stories currently on the shelves, while staying focused on the heart of any good story, the characters.

    All New Wolverine Vol. 01 Four Sisters
    By: Tom Taylor, David Lopez, Bengal
    With the death of Logan, clone daughter Laura Kinney (X-23) steps up to be Wolverine and the best she is at what she does. This book is bloody, emotional, hilarious, and beautiful. This is one of those unique books that can present adult subjects in a way that people of all ages can understand. Clone or not, All-New Wolverine definitely has soul.

    Dept. H Vol. 1: Pressure
    By: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
    Not your average murder mystery! An in depth(see what I did there) story taking place on a deep sea research station. Family, lies, secrets and creatures make for a spectacular, well-paced adventure.

    Steven Universe & Crystal Gems Vol. 01
    By: Josceline Fenton, Chrystin Garland, Kat Leyh
    They are the Crystal Gems. They always save the day! If you think they can’t. Here is proof that they always find a way!

    Monstress Vol. 1
    By: Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
    A fascinating look at an alternate 1900’s Asia where monsters of god-like power are normal. Witness the journey of one teenage girl struggling to survive while trying to tame her own MONSTER.

    Black Panther Vol. 01 Nation Under Our Feet
    By: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze
    Wakanda under the microscope. On the brink of civil war, treason and terrorist attacks ensue in T’Challa’s homeland. Witness Black Panther fight to save his country from all fronts.

    Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol. 01
    By: Kyle Higgins, Jorge Corona, Goni Montes
    “It’s Morphin Time!” This fantastic new series starts after the Green with Evil Saga. Takes us through a different path from the show, one that keeps it at the top of my reading every month. Perfect for fans new and old.

    Saga Vol. 6
    By: Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
    Set three years after the end of Vol. 5, our story opens with Hazel in kindergarten. For a story that’s followed a family on the run through space since issue 1, Vol 6 shows them living a domestic and stationary life for the first time…and it doesn’t go too well for them. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples continue to be a dominating power tag team.

    Sheriff Of Babylon Vol. 01 Bang Bang Bang
    By: Tom King, Mitch Gerads, John Paul Leon
    Currently known for his fantastic work on Batman, Tom King and Mitch Gerad’s The Sherriff of Babylon, is a suspenseful crime noir tale set in Bagdad circa 2003. King’s CIA experience in addition to Gerad’s life-like art style gives this series the accolades it deserves.

    Beauty Vol. 01
    By: Jason Hurley, Jeremy Haun
    The first STD that people actually WANT! In this world, The “Beauty”, transforms your body into its most beautiful version. People are literally dying to get it but the public is unaware of the side effects. Detectives Vaughn and Foster are on the case.

    Faith Vol. 01 Hollywood & Vine
    By: Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Jele Kevic-Djurdjevic
    Starting off as a side character in Harbinger back in 2014, we were given a full ongoing series of Faith Herbert this year. Written by the wonderful Jody Houser. This is a series meant for Fan-boys/girls, as Faith herself is as much of a geek as we are.

    Gotham Academy Vol. 03 Yearbook
    By: Brenden Fletcher, Moritat, Mingjue Helen Chen
    Our favorite students go back after their adventures last year, telling tales before everything went to chaos. Gotham Academy is an all-ages series perfectly suited for those wanting to move to Gotham, but are not old enough to drive there.

    Legend of Zelda Legendary Ed GN Vol. 01 Ocarina Time
    By: Akira Himekawa
    Viz does it again. While this is a reprint, if you’ve never read the Manga adaptation of the celebrated N64 game Ocarina of Time, this is a perfect time. Collecting vol 1 and 2, You get the complete tale.

    DON’T FORGET TO VOTE BY THE 31ST

    Honorable Mentions

    2016 had so many amazing titles that it was nearly impossible for us to narrow it down to 25. With that in mind, here are some honorable mentions of books that you should definitely check out. Odds are they made your own personal top 25.

    Batman Vol. 1 I Am Gotham
    By: Tom King, David Finch
    Gotham City has two new heroes, Gotham and Gotham Girl. With these super powered saviors doing what Batman can’t, is he really what Gotham City needs anymore?

    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 04 Kissed Squirrel Liked It
    By: Ryan North, Erica Henderson
    I an age of dark and gritty superheroes, The Unbeatable Squirrel decides to have fun with the universe it lives in instead. Be prepared to smile.

    Dark Knight: A True Batman Story
    By: Paul Dini, Eduardo Risso
    Legendary Batman writer, Paul Dini, was beaten within an inch of his life. This autobiographical tale shows just how these iconic characters like Batman can get us through the darkest of times.

    Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse
    By: Chris Roberson, Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, Wes Dzioba, Dan Dos Santos
    Set after the events of the previous series, Leaves on the Wind, No Power in the ‘Verse continues the tale of our favorite Browncoats

    I Am a Hero Omnibus Volume 1
    By: Kengo Hazawa
    A slightly crazy artist, and one of the few people in Japan that actually owns a gun, is neck deep in the zombie apocalypse.

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    Review: Wandering Island

    wandering island vol 1Spunky loner Mikura runs Mikura Air Service, a parcel and package delivery service in the outer Japanese islands due south of Tokyo, a business she inherited from her much beloved grandfather. When she’s not flying, she’s wandering the harbor cities or trying to figure out the myths around the mysterious Is. Electriciteit, the Electric Island. The Wandering Island.

    But how can an island move around, visible one day and gone for months after? Did Grandpa really visit the island, are the sightings in his journals real, or is it all just a tall tale parents used to keep their young children in line?

    Most mysteriously, there are entries in Grandpa’s journal that post date his death!

    The mystery pulls young Mikura out of her usual habits and Mikura Air Service suffers a drop in business as she spends more and more time investigating and searching. Soon she’s forgotten to pay her power bills and with only the companionship of her cat, she’s rummaging through mountains of paperwork and keepsakes from Grandpa in the house she inherited from him.

    And it’s there that she finds… well, no spoilers!

    A classic Japanese manga tale, Wandering Island is delightful reading, right-to-left, a curious mystery and adventure tale with a strong, smart heroine who ignores local customs and does her darndest to get to the bottom of things. Be warned that this is only part 1, however, because the story definitely ends with another mystery, not a neat resolution!

    There’s also a great postscript by editor Carl Gustav Horn chock full of information about Mikura’s plane (a terrific old Fairey Swordfish from WWII) and the outer Japanese islands (some of which have a population numbered in the low hundreds), along with a background on writer and illustrator Kenji Tsuruta.

    Wandering Island, Vol. 1, written and illustrated by Kenji Tsuruta, published by Dark Horse Books, July 13, 2016.

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    Sean Michael Wilson Introduces Us to AX Alternative Manga

    Ax Alternative Manga Sean Michael WilsonThis week, Top Shelf Month continues with an interview with Sean Michael Wilson, editor of AX TPB Vol. 01, a collection of alternative manga that is “Independent, Open and Experimental,” according to the cover. We got the chance to pepper Wilson with questions regarding this unusual collection–check out our conversation below!

    TFAW.com: So what is alternative manga?

    Sean Michael Wilson: That is as hard to answer as asking what is “alternative comic books.” Basically the same characteristics might be there though, as with alternative comics in the U.S. or UK or France. It delineates something artistic, artist-centric manga, an exploring spirit, less boundaries, less control by editors, etc. The motto of AX is: “Manga should be independent, Manga should be open, Manga should be experimental.” So that’s what our English collection is also!

    TFAW.com: How does gekiga manga fit into the overall genre?

    SMW: Gekiga is the first attempt at a more mature style of manga. Though we should not say “gekiga manga,” which is like saying “book book” almost. Just “Gekiga” is enough–the original creators of that invented the word to describe a thing in itself, a type of visual storytelling that uses certain techniques and certain themes that might be more interesting to older, mature audiences. Those originators are [Yoshihiro] Tatsumi, [Masahiko] Matsumoto and [Yoshiharu] Tsuge–though many others are involved, that’s the three main ones we are focusing on.

    TFAW.com: Can you give us a quick history of AX?

    Ax Alternative Manga Sean Michael WilsonSMW: AX and the publisher Serin-Kogeisha developed out of Garo. Most of the staff at AX once worked at Garo. When Garo changed hands in the ’90s and started to take on a more mainstream character, some of the staff disliked the change. It’s contentious as to what happened, involving a lot of gossip and accusations–but the end result was that the people who later formed AX left Garo in 1997.

    They soon decided to do something to continue to make more alternative-style manga. So, within six months they had started AX–which first came out in February 1998. Its named after a Bob Marley song, “Small axe,” about cutting down the big Jamaican record companies, as they likewise provide an alternative to the big manga companies.

    TFAW.com: What types of things will AX Vol. 1 include?

    SMW: Several types of manga are in it: erotic, dreamtype, “I” type stories, heta-uma (intentionally bad/good stuff), offbeat humour, gekiga-influenced, nichijo (everyday stories) etc. As they say, something for everyone!

    TFAW.com: Do you have any personal favorites?

    SMW: My own favourites in the book include those by [Shin’ichi] Abe, [Akino] Kondo, [Kazuichi] Hanawa and [Takato] Yamamoto, and of course the story by Tatsumi is delightfully odd.

    AX Alternative Manga Sean Michael WilsonTFAW.com: How did you become involved in this project? What was your role, as editor?

    SMW: I met with Mitsuhiro Asakawa, one of the editors at the Seirin-Kogeisha office in Tokyo. I had to hunt around the back streets of Shinjuku to find the little one-floor office of Seirin-Kogeisha, hidden behind some local shops. After that we normally meet in a cafe in Jimbo-cho, the same one that Tatsumi has being going to since the 1960s. Asakawa and I got on well and established a rapport. We both love the Beatles and The Who and other ’60s rock music! In fact we talk about music as much as manga. So we decided to make a joint effort to bring some AX stuff out in English.

    The basic reason was to show more of this alternative, indie-style manga, since it has not been seen much so far. I began by telling people about it in the NYCC in 2008 and got interest right away. From then on I steered the whole process through, working with Asakawa, the interior designer Ian, the translator Spencer and the whole crew at Top Shelf: Chris, Brett, Leigh, Rob and the cover layout designer, Eric. It was a lot of work over 400 pages, but we pulled it off quite well.

    TFAW.com: How did you select which pieces would be included?

    SMW: It was a mix of a “best of,” with an attempt to be representative of the range in Japanese AX, and also to show mostly self-contained stories this time.

    AX Alternative Manga Sean Michael WilsonTFAW.com: How did Top Shelf become a part of this?

    SMW: Basically because I respect their work and their positive attitude. It was a book that several companies wanted to do, as it was clearly going to be something special. But my recommendation to Asakawa was that Top Shelf would be good for it. And they have been very supportive.

    TFAW.com: What would someone who enjoys books like Naruto or Gunsmith Cats think of AX Vol. 1?

    SMW: So far some have reacted like “Eh, what is this, it’s gross!” Others have been “Wow, this is amazing, I’ve never seen manga like this!” The more mature, experienced fans have said that they are very happy to see the book come out and for manga available in English to take this further step forward.

    TFAW.com: Since this is titled “Vol. 1,” can we expect additional volumes?

    SMW: Yes, if enough of you buy volume one!

    AX Alternative Manga Sean Michael WilsonTFAW.com: How has manga evolved over the past 10 years, in your opinion?

    SMW: Well, I am not knowledgeable enough to say. One thing I need to make clear is that I am not a manga expert. I am a comic book writer who lives in Japan and works with Japanese artists and Japanese publishers. It’s only this gekiga/alternative style that I have a special knowledge of, and that’s mostly thanks to Asakawa.

    TFAW.com: Do you have any idea of what the next 10 years will look like?

    SMW: Who knows, manga spaceships finally? But for gekiga, mature-style manga, this is the best time there has ever been. It seems to have finally found its time for greater appreciation, not just with our AX book, but also the Tatsumi’s books with Drawn & Quarterly, and the efforts of Fantagraphics and Last Gasp also. Tatsumi’s book winning two Eisner awards this year [Editor’s note: Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life won “Best Reality-Based Work and Best U.S. Edition of International Material–Asia” this year] is an indication of that wider appreciation, and several people told me that the AX book itself will probably get an Eisner nomination next year. So, if things go well, 10 years from now there should be a large library of mature-style manga available in English, and that will be a great thing.

    TFAW.com: What else do you have coming up that you’re excited about?

    AX Alternative Manga Sean Michael WilsonSMW: Well, Masahiko Matsumoto’s Cigarette Girl is coming out next year, probably timed for the next San Diego. That will be a big step forward for the understanding of gekiga. Matsumoto was a big influence on Tatsumi, and developed various techniques associated with the gekiga approach. Then, as a writer, I have my first book with Kodansha International coming out in September in Japan, and in January in the U.S./UK. That’s called Hagakure, and is an authentic version in manga format of a key guide to the way of the samurai, written in the the early 18th century. This was written by myself and with art by Japanese artist Chie Kutsuwada.

    Chie and I have also done The Story of Lee for the U.S. publisher NBM. That will come out in December–set in Hong Kong is a mix between a cross-cultural romance and a culture/age clash story. That’s an original story by me, with lots of real Hong Kong places in it–I went there and did my research! I also have my version of Oscar Wilde’s A Canterville Ghost coming out in October, from Classical Comics in the UK. So, lots more to come!

    We want to thank Sean Michael Wilson for giving us the inside scoop on AX TPB Vol. 01–check it out and save 20% on it and all Top Shelf books this August! Also, make sure to take a peek at our 17-page preview of this amazing collection.

    Are you a fan of alternative manga? Post your comments below!

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    Kodansha Dissolves Relationship With Tokyopop

    Big news for manga fans: Kodansha, Japanese publisher of many popular manga titles, will not renew its licenses with Tokyopop. This means any manga series in progress will not be completed, and there will be no reprints of any current volumes.

    Brigid Alverson from MangaBlog posted Tokyopop’s official press here, but here’s an excerpt:

    The Japanese publisher Kodansha, from whom TOKYOPOP has licensed many terrific series over the years — Chobits, Love Hina, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Rave Master, Initial D, Kindaichi, Life, GetBackers, and Love Attack, to name a few — has decided to let all existing contracts with TOKYOPOP expire on all manga series that they have licensed to us. As a result, Kodansha will not renew any licenses with TOKYOPOP for any new manga volumes. What does this mean? TOKYOPOP will not be allowed to complete the publication of any series that is currently in progress; in addition, TOKYOPOP will not be allowed to reprint titles after the current inventory has been sold out, so once these series are sold out at retail, they will not be available for consumers to purchase. The reasons for Kodansha’s decision were not communicated to TOKYOPOP.

    Brigid also noted that Kodansha also opted not to renew its licenses with Tokyopop Germany last year.

    What do you all think of this latest development? Are you disappointed that so many manga series will be stopped in their tracks? Do you still read Tokyopop, or have you moved on to Dark Horse’s CLAMP or other manga publishers?

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