Four Comics & Manga you should be reading

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In these times of hardship, escapism is the hero many of us need. One of the perks of being cooped up at home is that it has given me a chance to catch up on some fantastic comics and manga. Here are four series you should be reading.

First, we have “The Flash” (2016) by Joshua Williamson, the latest series starring the fastest man alive. In the aftermath of DC Rebirth, Barry Allen (The Flash) finally reunites with his long lost nephew, Wally West (The Other Flash). 

As the two set out to get their lives back on track, a mysterious Speed Storm emerges in Central City, causing many of its citizens to gain The Flash’s powers. Aided by new and fan-favorite allies alike, Barry sets out to protect his city and slowly rebuild the shattered Flash Family.

What makes this particular Flash series so appealing is the sheer reverence the writer has for the character. While the recent prior runs sought to completely reinvent the world and characters surrounding Barry Allen, the goal here was to reinvigorate the series by emphasizing what fans love about the character. This includes rebuilding crucial pillars of The Flash’s history, like his relationship with the Flash Family and the Rogues.

The series also serves as a perfect jumping-on point for new readers, as much of it is about reintroducing these elements to readers before taking them in new and familiar directions. In essence, this is perfect for both longtime fans and new readers interested in The Flash.

Next up is “Sazan & Comet Girl” by Yuriko Akase, a Ghibli-like adventure spanning the stars. This manga tells the story of Sazan, a young construction worker from Earth doing off-world odd jobs while living out a mundane existence. That is, until he meets Mina, a thrill-seeking space biker who shows him the exhilarating side of life. But when Mina suddenly disappears from Sazan’s life, he sets out to find her once again, no matter how far he has to travel.

Once again, the character relationships are a big part of what makes this one great, particularly Sazan’s relationship with Mina and his determination to see her once again. The series also aims for a Studio Ghibli-like art style and emphasis on imagination. As Sazan’s journey progresses, the story excels at balancing character-driven and emotional moments with the imaginative antics typical of Ghibli films, making it a must-read for Ghibli buffs.

Number three on my list is “Ran & The Gray World” by Aki Irie, a sorcery-based coming- of-age manga. The series follows Ran, the youngest daughter of the Uruma family, and her adventures as a child who longs to grow up quickly. Through a pair of magical shoes, the young Ran transforms into an adult version of herself and sets off on a comedic, magical journey through Tokyo.

The series brilliantly explores the innocence of youth and the life of a typical, loving family within a magical setting. As the story progresses and the tone darkens slightly, Ran matures as she navigates the challenges that come with adult life. This is by far one of the best coming-of-age stories I have ever seen, and it is worth picking up for that reason alone.

Finally, there is “Birthright” by Joshua Williamson (author of “The Flash”), a thrilling family drama that puts a fresh spin on a typical fantasy epic. Stop me if you have heard this one: a young kid, this time named Mikey Rhodes, wanders through the forest and suddenly winds up in a world full of swords and sorcery. Once there, the kid soon learns that he is the chosen one—a hero destined to slay the evil king and bring peace to these war-torn lands. 

Only this time, “Birthright” asks what would happen to the Rhodes family upon learning that their son was missing—and what would happen once he returned.

Much like Williamson’s take on “The Flash,” “Birthright” tells the story of a family torn apart by tragedy. Instead of focusing on Mikey’s time in the fantasy world, the series examines the increasingly complex and surprising backstory behind the entire Rhodes family. Whether you are a sucker for family dramas or a die-hard fan of fantasy epics, “Birthright” has you covered.

Overall, there are a lot of great comics and manga to read. Now is the perfect time to start reading comics about superheroes, family drama or good old-fashioned fantasy.