Silver Spoon, vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Yuugo Hachiken has always been great at academics. It surprises everyone when he decides to enroll in Ooezo Agricultural High School instead of a regular high school. Yuugo’s plan is to coast through high school, since an agricultural school must be easier than a regular academic school, right? Wrong! Instead of doing math problems, and reciting poetry, Yuugo’s waking up at 5AM to do chores, raise animals, and learn to ride a horse. All the other students have been doing farm work their entire lives, and Yuugo is playing catch up. Can this city boy adapt to farm life, and survive high school?
Many readers will relate to Yuugo’s desire to escape stressful academic expectations. There’s plenty of fish out of water humor and educational moments about farm life. The story gives a lot of respect to agricultural industries and rural life. The art is clean and does a good job of portraying the energy of an agricultural high school. This is a great series for fans of high school stories in unusual settings. Recommended for fans of Food Wars! And Haikyu!
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
First Second Comics
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Fitting in has never been easy for Vera. After a disastrous birthday party sleepover, Vera decides she must take action to fit in better. She begs her mom to let her go to sleep away camp like the “popular girls” at school. They can’t afford a fancy camp like the other girls and things don’t quite go as planned when she and her brother end up at a Russian Heritage Camp. Vera thinks she’s finally found a place where she might fit in, because of her Russian heritage, but camp isn’t at all what she expected. Will she survive a summer filled with girl drama, shifting camp alliances and an outhouse from hell?
This semi-autobiographical graphic novel is filled with heart and spirit. In addition to being laugh out loud funny, teens will relate to the school/camp drama and the need to fit in versus the need to be true to yourself. Brosgol’s artwork is fun and heartfelt and her use of a limited palette adds to the light-hearted but realistic portrayal of her characters. Perfect for fans of Shannon Hale, Raina Telgemeier and Brosgol’s other work including Anya’s Ghost.
Black Hammer, vol. 2: The Event by Jeff Lemire, Illustrated by Dean Ormston, David Rubin, and Dave Stewart
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
When Black Hammer’s daughter Lucy arrives at the Farm, it encourages superheroes Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, Barbalien, and Talky-Walky to think maybe there is a way to escape their strange prison. Unfortunately, Lucy can’t remember how she got there. As Lucy explores the farm and small town, the reader is treated to flashbacks of several of the characters, including Black Hammer’s story and “The Event” that led to our heroes being stuck in this rural place with none of their super powers. All is not lost though, and the surprise ending is quite the cliffhanger!
Like the first volume in this series, the artwork is a modern take on classic comics and the story is thoroughly engaging. Each of the characters has a different backstory and reaction to their current surroundings that give them depth. For example, we learn that Abraham Slam was an aging superhero trying to fit in with younger, more adept heroes back in Spiral City, but on the farm, he’s a protective father figure with a love life and no desire to return to his old life. Golden Gail on the other hand, would do anything to return to her old life where she had been retired and happy.
This great series isn’t just for classic superhero fans. Readers looking for a great story with interesting, fully fleshed out characters (and a dose of science fiction) will be hooked.