I finally told my local comic shop to cut Ultimate Spider-Man from my pull list. Ultimate Spider-Man, for you staunch gamers not in the know, is an alternate universe take on Spider-Man that has evolved over the years since its inception to now feature a half Puerto Rican, half black young man named Miles Morales under the webs. Miles is freaking awesome, and I’ve been with the book through thick and thin for years now, but the latest impending relaunch, along with some other nauseating changes to the line, have finally prompted me to cut ties. As a result, I started reevaluating everything on my pull list of comics, and came to realize that some of my favorite comics on the stands today are Archie Comics’ three video game-based series, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe, and Mega Man.
Yes, for those of you in the know, I’m still picking up must-haves like Batman (and I’m digging Superior Spider-Man, naysayers!), but in all honesty, the most fun and freshness are coming from these three series. As I’ve been going through my back log of comics as of late, it got me thinking about the various video game comics that have come out or are still being published that really deserve more love. Here are the top five video game-based comics you should track down and read!
5) The Legend of Zelda Manga
Publisher: VIZ Media
Nintendo might be reluctant to return to TV and movies when it comes to its core franchises, but one area that the company has been more outgoing with is comics. The line of Zelda manga translated and published here in the US by VIZ Media (under its VizKids imprint) feature very fun, energetic retellings/reinterpretations of the stories from the games. What makes them special is the combination of intricate, beautiful artwork and little story details not present in the games. Some might be pickier about pulling the stories straight from the source material, but I’ve always found some of the small alterations to be welcome injections of personality that only serve to expand and enrich the Zelda mythology. There are ten volumes in total, with a very handsome collector’s edition out there that bundles them all together. Easily worth a read for fans of the series.
4) Kingdom Hearts Manga
Publisher: Yen Press
Originally published by Tokyopop, the Kingdom Hearts manga are very handsome recreations of Sora’s epic games. Fans will be blown away by the stunning artwork, and the story is just as engaging/maddening on the page as it is on a TV screen. To date, there are volumes based on KH, KH II, KH: Chain of Memories, and KH: 358/2 Days available to read. Keep in mind, Tokyopop lost the rights to publish the manga and it went away for years before Yen Press came along, so it’d be best to add this to your collection sooner, rather than later!
3) Street Fighter Comics/Manga
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
The fine folks at Udon are responsible for some of the most robust and comprehensive video game art books to ever be published here in the West, so it’s only fitting that they’d put out some excellent comics, too. The publisher has translated some of the more beloved Japanese manga stories and also produced some of its own, original comics, too. The quality for both is very high, and are offered in a number of formats, including massive coffee table editions! Keep your eyes peeled for other Udon published comics, including Darkstalkers.
2) Mega Man Comics
Publisher: Archie Comics
Mega Man might be in limbo in the world of video games, but he’s alive and well in comics. Archie’s been producing the series for over two years now, and the quality has yet to dip. From issue one to now, the writing and art have been consistently high, establishing a unique take on the character’s world, friends, and enemies. Aside from Udon, Archie is one of the few publishers to make video game comics that aren’t just translations of material from other territories, and the time and effort the company puts into Mega Man is readily apparent on every page. I also have to point out, Udon has translated some excellent Mega Man manga, as well, so be sure to give those a look, too!
1) Sonic the Hedgehog Comics
Publisher: Archie Comics
Like I said, I’ve dropped Ultimate Spidey and a few other titles in recent months, but Sonic’s wonderful adventures from Archie are some of the best stuff I’m reading from month to month. Both Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Universe exist in a world unique to the comics and different from the video games, but what Archie has crafted is so nuanced and entertaining, it’s no surprise why Sega has maintained as long a relationship with the publisher as it has. From the art to the writing, I’ve fallen head over heels for the Blue Blur and his pals, and you should, too.
Well, folks, I hope you can find the time to peruse the interwebs (or better yet, get to a comic shop) to pick any/all of these titles. Each one is worth your money and time, and it’s important to keep quality titles like these on the stands. Forget picking up the next #1 relaunch of the month; support comics and creators who put quality over gimmicks!