Graphic novels

Spider-Man: New Ways to Die by Dan Slott

Spider-Man: New Ways to Die by Dan Slott

The graphic novel Spider-Man: New Ways to Die begins like many Spider-Man stories before it. There is a brief explanation of Peter Parker’s dual life as a superhero and a photographer stuck in perpetual poverty, quickly followed up by a battle between Spidey and the newest “Goblin” character, Menace.

However, it quickly becomes clear to the reader that the status quo has been greatly changed for this latest adventure. Parker works for a different newspaper, his former nemesis Eddie Brock is dying of cancer, and Norman Osborn, previously the Green Goblin, is in charge of the Thunderbolts, a team of “hero hunters” out to capture Spider-Man.

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

First off, yes, it is that Dahmer. Secondly, yes, this book is written and drawn by a man named Derf Backderf.

My Friend Dahmer is much more than just a grisly expose on the teenage life of a future serial killer; it is also a rumination on the culture of 1970's suburbia, where teens were left to their own devices in the wake of divorce or career-minded parents.

Luthor by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo

Luthor by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo

Have you ever been in a situation where you faced impossible odds to succeed? Or, have you ever gone up against an opponent seemingly superior to you in every way? These traits are usually associated with a brave protagonist “overcoming the odds” but can sometimes be compellingly applied to a villain as well. Lex Luthor, a villain almost as old as the Superman mythos itself, has long existed without a compelling character hook. He was originally a fat, bald man who schemed to ruin Europe simply because he could.

RASL: The Drift by Jeff Smith

RASL: The Drift by Jeff Smith

RASL: The Drift deals with alternate universes. Worlds that are just like this one, with only the slightest differences. Looking for those small clues is sometimes helpful, sometimes upsetting, and this is especially true if you are not entirely sure what dimension you are in.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley's graphic novel Relish: My Life in the Kitchen zigzags between biography, cookbook, travelogue, and manifesto of all things culinary. What's more, her fun, vibrantly colorful artwork often made me very hungry. This is the mark of success for such a book.

Relish explores every aspect of food's vast appeal, whether it is for purposes of comfort, nourishment, or to just satisfy that insatiable craving for sautéed mushrooms.

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

Richard Feynman was one of the younger scientists entrusted to work on the atomic bomb, but the graphic novel biography Feynman shows that there is so much more to his life than just those few years.

For one thing, the Nobel-winning physicist was equally fascinated with art, using diagrams to explain his science in a way for which he could not always find the right words. What better representation for an artistic scientist's life than a graphic novel?

Goliath by Tom Gauld

Goliath by Tom Gauld

The tale has traveled far and wide over the millennia. A sinister, gigantic force of evil is vanquished by a young shepherd with a sling and a small stone. The shepherd grows up to be King David, but we know so little about the nine-foot-tall soldier who was slain. What if his real passion was not killing and maiming but filing clerical paperwork?

Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan

The universe has declared war on itself and everyone is choosing one of two sides. It all started when the species on a planet tried to conquer a species on its own moon. The destuction knows no end, but amongst the slaughter, within the dismal senselessness of bloodshed, there is a child born. She is the daughter of Alana and Marko, who are supposed to be enemies. Now all three are on the run. Saga: Volume One is the beginning of their story.

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel

There's that familiar anecdote: a child gets a nice, big, expensive toy for his birthday. The parents have spent hours putting it together,. For all of their sweat, pain, and suffering they find that the child is most fascinated with the big cardboard box the toy came in.

Cardboard, by Doug TenNapel, is a clever variation on that premise. Mike, an out-of-work carpenter, has nothing for his son Cam's birthday. A strange old man approaches him with an offer. For just a handful of change, Mike can get his son an amazing gift. It may seem like an ordinary cardboard box, but whatever Cam makes out of the corrugated paper pulp comes to life.

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Peterson

It started as a a funny, little notion scrawled of a piece of scrap paper. "Mice have a culture all their own; Too small to integrate with other animals." Over the past decade, David Petersen's throwaway thought has emerged into a beautifully vivid adventure series that combines breathtaking action with gorgeous artwork. That series starts with Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.

The Mouse Guard are essentially wandering knights who serve a widespread kingdom. Mice have many natural predators and the guard has been established to protect citizens and keep the peace. But the kingdom is not simply threatened by snakes and owls. There are also enemies within.