From the Miles Morales: Original Spider-Man Graphic Novel series

A lackluster outing for a beloved Marvel character.

Spider-Man is swinging in for another fast-paced adventure!

Spider-Man, aka Afro-Latine teenager Miles Morales, is excited to be a celebrity’s plus-one to a new video game launch, but when the party is interrupted by Trinity and Vex, two potential teenage supervillains-in-training, Spider-Man is soon tangled in a web of plans created by the Stranger, a superstrong, superintelligent extraterrestrial with plans to kill half of Earth’s population in the name of justice. The Stranger plans to freeze people in a state of unexplained hibernation and then turn half the population against the other half. The book’s basic plot seems lifted from Avengers: Infinity War. Sure, there are some personal stakes added to this story, as Spider-Man’s friends and family are frozen, and a subplot develops where Miles’ Uncle Aaron is hospitalized after being frozen while driving, but the graphic novel suffers from the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it emotional ways in which these (temporary) losses affect Miles. The exposition in place of plot and fast-paced character development also won’t help readers turn into mega-fans. Miles Morales became incredibly popular because he was a breath of fresh air, adding nuance and depth to Marvel, and this book is going to be read and reread by many fans because of that, but it brings little new to the party. Trinity is brown-skinned, while Vex is light-skinned.

A lackluster outing for a beloved Marvel character. (Graphic novel. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82639-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022


Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019


A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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