Comic book fans have something to be excited about this month: Marvel’s Avengers movie has finally come out, after teasers that began way back in Iron Man. (Yes, I stayed in the theater and watched the endclip, why do you ask?) Sure, the Avengers have been taking names and smashing box office records, but here’s the big question: what would members of this superteam read in their free time? Wonder no more!
The Hero: Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff)
The only female member of the movie’s Avengers, Black Widow is an exceptional spy and infiltrator, skilled in disguise, intrigue, assassination and hand-to-hand combat. In the comics, she began her career as a Soviet spy but became a valued member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Although she has pursued romantic relationships with many of her superhero colleagues during her comic-book history, including Iron Man and Daredevil, Black Widow remains staunchly independent–this lady is more than capable of taking care of herself.
Like Black Widow, Katsa is a skilled fighter, who, at first, is used by an unscrupulous ruler for his own purposes. Over the course of the novel, Katsa discovers a great deal about herself, including the true nature of her abilities and the strength to stand up to those in power. At the end of the book, when Katsa has the emotional maturity to enter a romantic relationship without losing herself, I’m sure Natasha would cheer her on.
The Hero: Captain America (Steve Rogers)
Committed to fighting the good fight in World War II, young, sickly Steve Rogers volunteered to undergo an experimental process that turned him into a supersoldier. As Captain America, Rogers kept the nefarious cabal HYDRA from using weapons of mass destruction–until he was lost in suspended animation in the Arctic, awakening 70 years later.
The Book: Nick of Time by Ted Bell
Young Nick McIver lives on an island in the English Channel, right before England enters World War II. Nick can tell something’s wrong–German U-boats and airplanes are appearing around his beloved island home–and he wants to do something about it. While he and his little sister are spying on the German planes and boats, they find a mysterious golden orb that takes Nick back in time to defend his home against another threat: the ruthless pirate Billy Blood and the French armada. Nick’s gumption and determination to do the right thing will certainly appeal to patriotic and courageous Steve Rogers, as will this book’s good old-fashioned swashbucking adventure. As an accidental time traveler himself, Steve Rogers will certainly relate to a story that takes place in two different centuries.
The Hero: Hawkeye (Clint Barton)
Hawkeye is an unusual hero. As a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., he doesn’t lack futuristic weapons to choose from, but he prefers to use a bow and arrows, achieving incredible results with what others would consider obsolete technology. In his comic-book continuity, Hawkeye was an enemy of the Avengers when he first appeared, but later grew to be a trusted member of the team. Over his long history with Marvel comics, Hawkeye has undergone several trying experiences, such as finding out his wife was actually a shapeshifting alien spy, and death (comics, everybody!), yet he still manages to pull through in a remarkably level-headed way.
The Book: Legend by Marie Lu (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
In a future where America has become a war-torn autocracy called the Republic, June and Day have wildly different lives. June is a prodigy, preparing for a life in the military; Day is a criminal, hunted for his acts of rebellion against the government. Their paths cross when June’s brother is murdered, and Day is the prime suspect. In her efforts to find Day and avenge her brother, June finds out that her old conceptions of friend and foe may not be true. Archery prodigy Clint Barton will be able to relate to military prodigy June, and as a person who has had his worldview and allegiance shift dramatically more than once, he will certainly understand June’s confusion when the propaganda she was raised to believe is proven hollow.
The Hero: The Hulk (Bruce Banner)
Mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner was exposed to gamma radiation. Now, if he gets angry or afraid, he transforms into an unstoppable, ferocious, green giant. Despite the strength and power of his alter-ego, the peaceful Dr. Banner desperately seeks a way to either control his outbursts or cure himself completely.
The Book: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
When his twin brother falls gravely ill, young Victor Frankenstein goes on a quest to create the Elixer of Life. What darkness will this obsession awaken in young Victor’s heart? Bruce Banner knows personally what effect scientific curiosity without limits can have on people–and has suffered its consequences. As a man whose own dark id has become an actual, physical being, Bruce Banner would sympathize with Victor’s growing inner darkness. (One caveat: this book conveys so much tension and gothic horror that I imagine Bruce would have to put it down frequently–or risk transforming while reading it!)
The Hero: Iron Man (Tony Stark)
A genius, playboy, billionaire, and egomaniac, Tony Stark’s life took a sudden turn when he was wounded in Afghanistan by weapons his own company sold to insurgents without his knowledge. Tougher and more cunning than most billionaires, Tony famously constructed a miniature arc reactor “in a cave, with a box of scraps” and used it to power his revolutionary full-body suit of armor. Then, to his own surprise as much as anyone else’s, he got his company out of the weapons business and became a superhero.
The Book: Bullet Point by Peter Abrahams
Wyatt has never met his biological father, who is serving a life sentence for murder. But then he ends up moving to the town where his father is imprisoned, and becoming involved with the sexy Greer, a girl whose own father is imprisoned. When Wyatt finally meets his charismatic father, he becomes convinced the man is innocent and is determined to help him–a decision that becomes the biggest mistake of Wyatt’s life. Booklist described this book as “edgy and sexy,” which is exactly the kind of book our favorite playboy would love. This book is also a page-turning mystery, perfect for hooking the inquiring mind of an ADD genius like Tony Stark.
The Hero: Thor (Thor)
Hailing from Asgard, Thor is gifted with long life and godlike powers, but when his actions destroy the truce between the Frost Giants and the Asgardians, he is stripped of his powers and sent to Earth. There he learns humility, eventually returning to Asgard to protect his realm and Earth from the schemes of his younger brother, Loki.
The Book: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
When Finnikin was nine, the royal family of his beloved homeland, Lumatere, were brutally murdered. The nation was cursed, and most of its citizens, including Finnikin, were driven into exile, unable to return or even communicate with their relatives due to the magic that isolates Lumatere. Ten years later, Finnikin meets a young woman named Evanjalin who claims that the heir to the throne of Lumatere is still alive and has chosen Finnikin to lead the exiles home. Can Finnikin trust Evanjalin? And does he have the strength to retake Lumatere? As a man who has himself experienced both betrayal and exile, Thor will be able to relate to Finnikin and his struggle. The passionate characters and epic plot will surely catch the heart of the son of Odin.
What do you think, readers? Do you have other suggestions for our heroes? What would Loki read? Tell us in the comments!
— Maria Kramer, currently reading Shine by Lauren Myracle