In our first post on Great Graphic Novels for Teens’s 2013 Top Ten, we looked at the three nonfiction titles that made the list. This week will be a little more eclectic — but no less fabulous.
First up is one of my favorite graphic novels from 2012, Ultimate Comics Spider-man, Volume 1. I already raved about this title back in July, but we’ll take another look today, just in case you missed it. First off, readers need to know that Ultimate Comics is an alternate universe that re-imagines the original super hero stories. Remember Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man? Forget him, he’s dead. This new version of Spider-Man is about high school kid from Brooklyn named Miles Morales who — you guessed it — is bitten by a weird spider and soon begins to exhibit some very strange abilities. This title was a committee favorite from the beginning because of its complex story, Miles’s realistic internal struggles, a pitch-perfect sidekick, and some of the most gorgeous super hero comic art around.
We move from super heroes to ghosts in the completely charming Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. Like her three older brothers, Maggie has been homeschooled her entire life, but she is about to experience public education for the first time as a high school freshman. Overwhelmed by the people and the noise, Maggie clings to the familiar even as she tentatively reaches out and makes two new friends of her own. Navigating high school isn’t her only challenge, though; Maggie thinks she might know how to finally release the ghost that has been haunting her since childhood. This one more than earned its place on the Top 10 with spot-on sibling relationships, realistic characters, and exceptionally able storytelling, but what makes it so special is Hicks’s artwork, which is simply wonderful in its creative panel use, expressive boldness, and ability to convey complex emotions within a single frame.
Anyone who has ever read a graphic novel collection knows that they frequently suffer from uneven quality and lack of a cohesive theme, but our next book exhibits neither flaw. Conceived of and illustrated by Rebecca Guay, A Flight of Angels masterfully embeds a series of stories by different authors within a rock-solid framework. Magical creatures from a mysterious forest come across the body of an unconscious angel and, unsure if they should let him live, they hold a tribunal of sorts to decide his fate. Each creature has the opportunity to sway the vote by telling their version of the angel’s purpose and how he came to be in their forest. The stories are illustrated in different styles, lending each one a distinct feel and flavor, but they are equally compelling and the artwork consistently gorgeous.
Join us next week as we look at civil rights-era Texas, the most loyal dog ever, the drama of middle school, and another top-notch super hero reboot.
— Summer Hayes, currently reading Shades of Earth by Beth Revis