Western Comics To Read If You Love Manga

by Tito W. James

Comic and Manga readers can sometimes get into a rut. I love Western and Eastern comics, but those who are entrenched in one fandom sometimes need a bridge. So, like the Avatar being a bridge between the world of spirits and humans, I will attempt to bridge the gap between two fandoms. Then without further delay, here are six Western comics you should read if you love Manga.

Ultramega

When a cosmic plague transforms everyday people into violent kaiju, humanity’s only hope are the super-powered Ultramega. However, this is a world where power corrupts and the heroes and monsters may have more in common than meets the eye. Ultramega was one of the wildest new titles of 2021 and has the makings of a new pop-culture phenomenon. Series creator James Harren has a bold body-horror take on the tokusatsu genre. Fans of deconstructionist stories like Devilman will be blown away by Ultramega.

Flavor Girls

Magical girls have enchanted readers young and old. Now artist Loic Locatelli (Persephone) has his own spin on the beloved genre. The Flavor Girls are a team of fruit-powered guardians to defend earth against the mysterious alien, Agarthians. The series has the perfect balance of SciFi, adventure, friendship, and humor. Locatelli’s art brings a uniquely French sensuality to these Japanese archetypes. For magical girl fans old and new, the Flavor Girls will become your new favorite heroines.

Step by Bloody Step

Step by Bloody Step is a wordless fantasy graphic novel that’s sure to appeal to fans of Moebius and Miyazaki. Writer Si Spurrier and artist Matas Bergara reunite from their work on Coda to tell the story of an armored giant and a helpless child. Together they’ll cross an astonishing world brimming with beasts, bandits, and advanced civilizations to reach their final destination– one bloody step at a time.

The emotional dynamic of Iron Giant mixed with the action and atmosphere of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal– Step by Bloody Step is a fantasy epic whose visuals speak louder than words.

Little Bird

Little Bird follows a young indigenous resistance fighter who battles against an oppressive American Empire and searches for her own identity in a world on fire. Writer Darcy Van Poelgeest and artist Ian Bertram take readers to a visceral fantasy world as breathtaking as The Revenant and as hyper-detailed and surreal as Akira.

In addition to its characters and world, what’s unique about Little Bird is the story’s unpredictable tone. The series can pivot from being dramatic, operatic, to darkly comedic within the space of a few pages. Poelgeest and Bertram make this multi-tonality work to their advantage and deliver scenes that are emotionally gripping and playfully violent. The world of Little Bird will be further explored in the forthcoming mini-series Precious Metal.

The Shaolin Cowboy

The Shaolin Cowboy is an absurd homage to spaghetti westerns, Kung Fu flicks, and Lone Wolf and Cub created by The Matrix concept artist Geoff Darrow. The series follows the nameless “cowboy monk” as he slices his away across an endless desert corrupted by American gluttony and jingoism.

Each volume works as a self-contained adventure that take place over a collective timeline. Early stories have been collected in the volumes Shaolin Cowboy: Start Trek and Shemp Buffet. For those seeking a richer narrative, I’d recommend Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign? The series is currently releasing its newest story arc, Cruel to be Kin. No matter where you start, readers are guaranteed plenty of non-stop carnage!

Tokyo Ghost

Tokyo Ghost is set in the year 2089, when humanity has become fully addicted to technology as an escape from reality. It follows the story of peacekeepers Debbie Decay and Led Dent, who work in the Isles of Los Angeles and are given a job that will take them to the last tech-free country on Earth: the garden nation of Tokyo.

Superstar writer Rick Remender and artist Sean Murphy deliver a cyberpunk odyssey in Tokyo Ghost. Remender described the book as his love letter to Bladerunner, Akira, Judge Dread, and 13 Assassins. The series has been collected into a single omnibus addition with a forthcoming film adaptation by Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, No Time To Die). All of the above makes Tokyo Ghost the perfect cocktail for the avid manga reader.

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