Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Ronin Island, vol. 1 by Greg Pak and Giannis Milonogiannis
Publication Date: December 10, 2019
In Feudal times, on an island off the China Sea, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese refugees live harmoniously together after the great wind that left their lands and families devastated. Japanese Kenishi, the descendant of a great samurai, is graduating from his warrior training along with his chief rival, Hana, a Korean orphan. Though Kenishi and Hana are at odds when it comes to just about everything, they must learn how to work together when an emissary of the new Shogun demands fealty from the island and support in fighting an even greater threat to both the peaceful island as well as the entire mainland.
Mixing history with fantasy, Ronin Island is an action-packed adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Kenishi and Hana represent two different social classes, yet the reader sees them grow throughout the volume and start to look past their individual differences. This series is riveting and engaging to the last page, and it also explores more serious issues that still plague society today, such as misogyny, untrustworthy leaders, and prejudice based on race, class, and ethnicity. Milogiannis’ artwork adds to the action and tension of the volume from the big action sequences to the small details such as Kenishi’s glorious armor in contrast to Hana’s patchwork clothing. Teens looking for a page-turning alternate-history action/adventure graphic novel will love this new series. Hand to fans of Greg Pak’s series Mech Cadet Yu or the Nameless City series by Faith Erin Hicks.
Runaways, vol. 3: That Was Yesterday by Rainbow Rowell, Illustrated by David LaFuente and Chris Anka
Publication Date: April 23, 2019
The return of Alex Wilder. The origin of Nico’s staff’s power, and a reckoning with the children of the Gibborim, the source of their parents’ and Alex’s original betrayal. It’s enough to ruin Christmas!
Rowell continues to craft well-realized and complicated characters who face difficult decisions as a result of their and their parents’ legacies, while also deftly balancing humor and new character additions. The Old Lace interlude is a laugh out loud delight. Despite the presence of two different illustrators in this volume, there is a clarity and consistency to the character renderings throughout. Fans of the first two volumes won’t be disappointed.
This title will appeal to fans of Rowell’s other titles (particularly Carry On), Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu, The Umbrella Academy on Netflix, as well as stories with found families/misfits, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Young Elites, and Renegades.
Bad Machinery: The Case of the Modern Men written and illustrated by John Allison
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Well, our very favorite British teenage sleuths are back! From the sleepy little town of Tackleford, England, we cross paths once again with local teens, Shauna, Lottie, Mildred, Jack, Linton, and Sonny—and don’t forget Little Claire and Grandpa Joe! Hijinks abound when Lottie welcomes a French exchange student, Shauna goes Metal, and Sonny gets obsessed with a scooter which sets off the battle of the ages—Mods VS Rockers!
Sonny is feeling pretty sad. The magnificent scooter he’s eyed for weeks in the shop window is gone by the time he’s flush. But, when he and his pals go looking for it, they discover what happens under the BRIDGE, and meet…the KING MOD. But, here’s the thing—there’s something weird about that scooter and the mysteries don’t stop as the crew tries to figure out how does one exactly become cool? And, what exactly is Grandpa Joe going on about? Big hair, haunted scooters, and loud music—plus, things happening under a bridge; all components of a great story. This book is full of mysteries upon mysteries with readers wondering what could possibly happen next.
John Allison’s illustrations fit his stories so perfectly—they are colorful, fun, full of jokes, playful expressions and readers will come to love (if they haven’t already) this trusty band of friends and detectives. Bad Machinery is a great and well rounded comic book series for tweens and teens—perfect for fans of off-beat mysteries, British humour, and characters they could call friends.