Fast-paced and entertaining.

GOTHAM HIGH

The high school beginnings of favorite Batman comic characters.

Seventeen-year-old Bruce Wayne just got kicked out of the fancy boarding school his Uncle Alfred sent him to when his parents died. Now he’s back in Gotham City, living in the family home and attending Gotham High. Bruce runs into his childhood neighbor Selina Garcia Kyle, who invites him to a party where he meets cardsharp Jack Napier, who becomes a new friend. One day, high school classmate Harvey Dent is kidnapped while trying on Bruce’s leather coat, and Bruce gets shot with a tranquilizer dart. Bruce, convinced he, not Harvey, was the real target, goes on a hunt to find the truth. As he uncovers more information, he discovers that his new friends aren’t what they seem. Narrated by Selina, the story puts Batman, the Joker, Catwoman, and other Batman favorites into a teenage setting, giving them more of a backstory. De la Cruz’s (The Queen's Assassin, 2020, etc.) graphic-novel debut is dark and alluring. The characters do what they need to survive, creating suspense. Pitilli’s (Archie, 2019, etc.) vivid and captivating illustrations are the highlight of this graphic novel, and the darker palette adds to the ominous feel. Bruce’s mother was Chinese from Hong Kong, and his father’s ethnicity is not specified; Selina is Latinx, and there is diversity in secondary characters.

Fast-paced and entertaining. (Graphic fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4012-8624-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A sure winner for any reader with a yen to become permanently terrified. Brilliant.

THROUGH THE WOODS

A print and Web comics artist offers five creep-out chillers (four new) with folk-tale motifs and thoroughly disquieting art.

Well-placed lines of terse, hand-lettered commentary and dialogue reinforce narrative connections but are also as much visual elements as are the impenetrable shadows, grim figures, and stark, crimson highlights in Carroll’s inky pictures. Making expert use of silent sequences, sudden close-ups and other cinematic techniques to crank up the terror, the author opens and closes in a dimly lit bedroom (much like yours), bookending the five primary stories. In “Our Neighbor’s House,” a trio of sisters are taken one by one by a never-seen smiling man. In the next, a bride discovers that “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold”—as are the other pieces (seen in close, icky detail) of her husband’s dismembered but not entirely dead former wife. Two cases of supernatural possession (“His Face All Red” and “My Friend Janna”) follow. The collection is capped by a true screamer in which a teenager’s memories of her mother’s tales of a cellar-dwelling monster with a “sweet, wet voice” segue into a horrific revelation about her pretty new sister-in-law. Lonely houses, dark woods and wolves? Check. Spectral figures with blood-red innards? Check. Writhing tentacles bursting from suddenly inhuman mouths? Check!

A sure winner for any reader with a yen to become permanently terrified. Brilliant. (Graphic horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6595-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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If you’re going to read one graphic novel this year, make it this one.

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NIMONA

A not-so-bad villain fighting against a not-so-good hero teams up with a spunky shape-shifting heroine in a cleverly envisioned world.

Nimona, a plucky, punk-tressed girl, is determined to be the sidekick of the nefarious (in name only) Ballister Blackheart, the sworn enemy of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics and their sporran-sporting champion, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Blackheart, intrigued by Nimona's moxie and ability to shape-shift, takes her on, and the two decide they're going to take down the Institution. Nimona and Blackheart learn that the supposedly benevolent Institution has been hoarding a great quantity of a poisonous plant, jaderoot. As they delve deeper into its inner workings, they soon find that the lines that separate good and evil aren't simply black and white. Stevenson's world is fascinating: an anachronistic marvel that skillfully juxtaposes modern conventions against a medieval backdrop. Imbued with humor, her characters are wonderfully quirky and play with many of the archetypes found in comics. The relationships among her characters are complex and compelling: for an antihero, Blackheart dislikes killing and mayhem, while Goldenloin is not averse to cheating and trickery. Stevenson's portrayal of the relationship between good and evil is particularly ingenious, as is her attention to detail and adroit worldbuilding.

If you’re going to read one graphic novel this year, make it this one. (Graphic fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: May 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-227823-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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