Going Graphic

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March: Book One is the beautifully constructed graphic novel biography of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. Relying only on black and white imagery, it is quiet in its form and presentation. Lewis' struggle of growing up in the Deep South, fighting to go to college, and helping to organize lunch counter sit-ins speaks volumes and needs no distraction.

This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer is a gorgeously-crafted coming-of-age graphic novel centering around a young girl named Rose. Her family has been visiting Awago Beach for years, but this summer is different.

Rose's parents have been fighting since they arrived at the beach. Something happened there last year that neither parent wishes to address, but it looms over their heads like a cloud of unspoken malaise.

Avengers Academy: Arcade Death Game

Avengers Academy: Arcade Death Game

Poor Arcade just can’t catch a break. The Marvel Comics villain, known more for his arrogance and his overly-contrived, easily-escapable “traps” has had enough of heroes thwarting his schemes and embarrassing him. In order to regain his prestige in the hierarchy of villains, he must successfully assassinate a superhero, but whom should he choose? He decides on the inexperienced yet powerful young superheroes of the Avengers Academy, a training camp for the next generation of Avengers. Arcade Death Game details his attempt to kill the young recruits of the group with his intricate traps and deadly machines. It is a tightly-paced thriller with appealing heroes and some well-drawn artwork.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Level Up's title is a video game reference, but it is also a metaphor for accepting responsibility and gaining maturity as one ages, which are qualities that Dennis Ouyang needs serious help with.

From the first time Dennis ever saw a Pac Man console as a child, he was mesmerized by the power that video games had. The idea of endless entertainment, based on skill and incredibly interactive, transfixes him.

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.

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon doesn't have the slick visuals or bright colors that you would normally imagine a member of the Avengers getting. Nor does it offer a conventional superhero storyline. Clint Barton, a master archer, was created by Stan Lee in 1964. Writer Matt Fraction is breathing life into him by contrasting him with all of those other super-powered heroes.

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train follows a feisty female trying to be on her best behavior. Ms. Kutter runs the town general store, but she was always most at her element when committing train robberies and other such deeds.

She may be trying to be a good girl at the beginning of the story, but we all know that old habits die hard. When she's asked to come out of retirement to rob one last locomotive, the offer sounds too good to be true.

Battling Boy by Paul Pope

Battling Boy by Paul Pope

Battling Boy has twelve t-shirts, each with a different creature emblazoned on the front. Apparently, they give him his powers, but he does not quite know how to use them yet. You see, Battling Boy is in training to be a superhero.

This fact does not offer much solace to the people of the planet Arcopolis. Their children are routinely being kidnapped by a wretched gang of monsters, led by a mummyish kingpin named Sadisto. They used to not have to worry about this sort of thing as much, back when Haggard West was their planet's superhero. Too bad Haggard West is now dead.

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Boxers & Saints are a masterful pair of graphic novels that offer perspective on both sides of China's Boxer Rebellion, a decade long struggle that I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about. The struggle hinged upon the arrival of Europeans who brought Christianity to the Chinese along with an unfortunate dose of subjugation.

Challengers of the Unknown from DC Comics

Challengers of the Unknown cover

Many people enjoy reading DC Comics’ classic Batman and Superman books, but often forgotten are the other series that were produced during the 1950s and 1960s, the “Silver Age” of comic books. One such series is Challengers of the Unknown, and it is sad that it has been mostly forgotten because it contains many exciting adventures with striking artwork and a panoply of bizarre monsters for the heroes to confront. For readers willing to put up with some of the more dated aspects of its storytelling, Challengers of the Unknown is an enjoyable trip back in time to DC’s Silver Age.