I am a huge fan of superhero stories and comics but I’ve recently fallen out of touch with all of the new releases and keeping up with single issues. Instead, I have slowly started to become obsessed with the new line of DC and Marvel original graphic novels aimed at young readers and teens. These stories contain all of our favourite superheroes but they re-imagine our heroes as young teens. Whether you have been a fan of these superheroes for years and are looking for a fresh take on their origin stories or you are just looking for a quick introduction to some superheroes, here are some amazing books to get you started!
As always, the links below will take you the VPL catalogue where you can request the books for yourself.
While this novel doesn’t re-tell the story of more famous Green Lanterns such as Hal Jordan or John Stewart, it is a wonderful novel about family and legacy. In this graphic novel, 13-year-old Tai Pham inherits his grandmother’s jade ring when she passes away. He soon starts to realize that the ring is not just a ring and he is chosen to be a new Green Lantern of Earth. This is a wonderful story as it can be read both by fans of superheroes and those who know very little about them, as the novel mainly focuses on Tai’s connection with his grandmother and his relationship to his city and how to protect it using his new powers.
This graphic novel stars Jessica Cruz, future Green Lantern and high school student who is concerned about her community. A mayoral candidate in Coast City is strong in her anti-immigration stance which concerns Jessica as her parents are undocumented. When her father is detained by I.C.E., Jessica has to look within in order to become a voice for her community. I thought this graphic novel was powerful and could easily be read without the superhero lens to it as the Green Lantern connection is not quite as prominent in this novel. I really liked Jessica’s voice and I liked how relevant and current this novel seems. Anyone who likes reading coming-of-age fiction will definitely enjoy this graphic novel.
In this original graphic novel, Miles Morales is a kid trying to balance his new status as Spider-Man with being regular high school student Miles. When disaster strikes his mother’s home of Puerto Rico, Miles and family start to set up a fundraiser. He soon notices, however, that a new student’s parent goes missing and they work for the large corporation that has agreed to be the fundraiser’s main sponsor. I really enjoyed seeing a glimpse into Miles’ family life and his community, as I think readers from any background can connect to these lovely images of family and friendship. I really liked the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse animated movie (another library item that can be enjoyed by all ages!) so I definitely enjoyed reading a story that features Miles.
This graphic novel re-imagines the origin story of Nubia, Wonder Woman’s Amazonian sister and DC Comics’ first Black woman superhero. In this novel, Nubia is a teen girl with an amazing family and community and some amazing abilities. Despite that, she keeps her identity and her powers secret as she knows that she will not be perceived as the hero that she is. I really enjoyed this novel as it portrayed teen activism in an engaged and realistic way and it depicted such a lovely family and friendship dynamic. Readers interested in both contemporary fiction and superheroes will love this blend of the two genre and those without any superhero knowledge can enjoy this novel as the coming of age story that it is.
Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo. Available on Hoopla.
This entry is a bit on the longer side as this book is the third one in a series focusing on Raven and Beast Boy, some of my favourite teen titans. This series starts with Teen Titans: Ravens and continues with Teen Titans: Beast Boy and concludes with this title here, Beast Boy Loves Raven. All these graphic novels focus on the teen titans as they start coming into their powers and as they interact with each other and of course, this book in particular is your typical YA romance with super powers involved. The series is actually set to continue with a fourth book featuring a completely different character. I really like the artist’s illustration style and the writing is fairly engaging too, making this series a must-read for any Teen Titans fan.
This graphic novel details Barbara Gordon (a.k.a The Oracle)’s origin story. In this graphic novel, Barbara is a teen trying to recover after an incident leaves her paralyzed. She undergoes physical and mental therapy at the Arkham Center for Independence but can’t she help but feel that something is amiss. She has to figure out whether that really is the case or whether or not it’s all not in her head. Though this graphic novel may be on the more serious side compared to the other books in this list, I still highly recommend it. The depiction of mental health and trauma was very well done and I think readers, especially adult readers, will be able to connect to Barbara.
Cassandra Cain, teen assassin, idolizes Batgirl and wants to take on the mantle when Batgirl goes missing. This novel is a little bit on the darker side but I think readers will be able to connect with Cassandra’s determination to become the best version of herself. The art style is definitely more edgy which also helps the comic further away from the superhero aesthetic readers are used to. It definitely can be read by all and it was one of my favourite books of 2020.
What are some of your favourite superheroes and have you read any of these adaptations? Let me know in the comments below as I would love to discuss all things graphic novel!