Reading with SJ: YA comics & graphic novels

Back again with some more titles I have thoughts on! This time, I’ll be looking at the YA illustrated/graphic novel/comic genre, which admittedly has a place in my heart. These are the books I love to check out a stack at a time and curl up with when I need some light reading or some feels. What can I say, we all have our moments.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks – I LOVE this book. Part satire of the genre, part girl making it on her own, part just plain fun, this is an awesome read. Superhero Girl isn’t your average superhero: no arch nemesis, no fancy costume, no tragic backstory, just a girl with superpowers, a roommate, a popular older superhero brother Kevin, and a potential date who points out how un-superhero-y she is all the time. It cracked me up and made me smile so many times, and I found myself definitely feeling for her and identifying with her frustrations. Love.

Rocket Girl vol. 1  by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder – I wasn’t sure what to expect with this title, but if this continues on as a series I will be thrilled. DaYoung is a member of the 2013 New York Teen City Police. In a world where adults aren’t trusted and teens inhabit the police force to balance power, DaYoung goes back in time to the 1980s to prevent a futuristic ruling corporation from becoming a horrific monopoly. She meets the creators of the very technology she uses on a daily basis and has to convince them that the future is going to be a daunting place, indeed, if they continue on their current course. In the present/future, the commissioner and a fellow officer struggle to buy her time and we find out that there’s more to her journey than meets the eye. DaYoung is a fabulous character – just the right age for YA readers, she’s confident, plucky, a competent fighter, and more mature than a lot of the adults around her. She’s filled with her goal and her cause. It was also refreshing to read a female-focused comic that wasn’t filled with sexualization of it’s lead character. Indeed, there are a few awesome ladies in this title, and the teenage characters in general are just fantastic. The world is well-developed, the action fast-paced, and I love it.

My Boyfriend is a Monster: He loves Me He Loves Me Not by Robin Mayhall and Kristen Cella – No, I haven’t read the rest of the series. Shut up. I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would. New girl Serena struggles to fit in at her new small-town school and ends up falling for football hero Lance and geek study partner Cam. Lance has anger issues and Cam seems to be hiding something, and more than one teacher at her school is mysterious. Even without the foreshadowing it’s an obvious retelling of Jeckyll and Hyde. At times things feel a little forced or repetitive, but it’s not the worst teen revamp I’ve ever read in my life, and I’d probably give the rest of the series a glance over if I was bored. It’s a quick read and there are some good moments.

Hoax Hunters vol 1 by Michael Moreci, Steeve Seeley, and JM Ringuet – I love the concept of this: the people behind a hoax busting reality show are actually paranormal-touched entities who are trying to keep the actual weird events of the world secret. The main story arc about Jack trying to figure out what his dad was up to is interesting and reeks of every conspiracy show I’ve ever seen in my life, which is fine because that works for a reason. All of the characters are fairly likable, but the pacing is just weird. I’m not quite sure why Murder exists other than to provide a convenient plot device to get into hard-to-reach places, etc (Murder would be a spacesuit possessed by an astronaut’s spirit who manifests via a murder of crows. I think). The middle stories were better than Murder’s origin story, and there’s an odd, tacked-on Mothman story illustrated in a different style that I love…but it just doesn’t fit, especially given that the way the Jersey Devil story ends is perfection. That’s the way the volume should have ended. The mothman story is brilliant, but it probably would have worked elsewhere in the volume, or in something else, unless future volumes are going to reference it. The action is fairly well-paced, though sometimes things seem to wrap up a little conveniently, and only a couple of the characters are developed so far. I’d also like to see less focus on the ladies’ poses in some panels, but maybe that’s just distracting to me, and to be fair I’ve seen manga and superhero titles that are way worse.

Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown – This is just adorable. If you’re not familiar with Jeffrey Brown’s work, shame on you. What I love about this title is that it explores Vader and Leia’s relationship if they were an interactive father and daughter not just when she’s a kid, but as she’s a teen, too, so you get awesome comics about her dating Han, Vader trying to deal with her rebellion (literal and i an actual member of the rebellion sense), and her questionable taste in wardrobe (yep, that outfit is referenced and it’s fantastic). Love the art, love the humor, love the feels.

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