Iceman Vol. 2: Absolute Zero by Sina Grace and Illustrated by Robert Gill and Rachel Rosenberg
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Now that Bobby Drake has come out to his parents, he is figuring out how to express himself as a gay man and a mutant. These struggles aren’t any easier with time-displaced younger version of himself hanging out, a love interest in L.A., queer dating rumors, and a jealous and vengeful Daken training Bobby’s former student.
This volume is notable for the way Bobby’s superhero struggles parallel his personal ones. In both fighting and family, Bobby feels the pressure to be successful, likeable, and reliable, as if his sexual orientation is a liability and he has to prove his value in spite of it. Some LGBTQ teens may relate to these pressures in their own lives, as they may also feel the need to be additionally spectacular to hide the shame of their identity.
There is a balance of crisp action in present day and flashback scenes, which are drawn in a more classic, blocky, and bold comic art style. The flashbacks inform the reader on some of the challenges Bobby faces today, like rejecting the casual misogyny that he grew up with and the secrecy and shame around his mutant powers.
Fans of character-driven superhero series like Ms. Marvel and LGBTQ superhero series like America Chavez will enjoy this volume and the developing storylines.
Laid-Back Camp, Vol. 1 & 2 by Afro
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Most people see camping as a great summer pastime, but for Rin, it’s something to enjoy year-round. All she needs is her camping gear (including a tent, stove, sleeping bag, chair, and some Cup Noodles), and she’s ready to go, even in wintertime. Nadeshiko hasn’t camped before, but when she runs into Rin one night–and gets a great view of Mt. Fuji–she quickly decides to join the Outdoor Exploration Club at her new school. Rin, who attends the same school, sees camping as something best enjoyed solo, but will Nadeshiko and her new club-mates change her mind?
Though many manga focus on the social aspects of high school, this entertaining series also provides a lot of great tips for anyone interested in camping. Evocative black and white art effectively conveys both the sweeping grandeur of rural Japan, and the unique sense of accomplishment teens can feel as they prepare a meal for themselves or watch the sun rise with a new friend. Give this manga to fans of graphic novels like Be Prepared and Silver Spoon.
Kaguya-Sama: Love is War, vol 1-3 by Aka Akasaka
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shinogane are student council members in a battle of wits and love. Each are trying to get the other to confess their feelings for the other, and each chapter features a “battle” that only one may win. Secondary characters add interest and obstructions to the battles. Chika Fujiwara, another student council member and Kaguya’s friend, often interferes with Kaguya and Shinogane’s efforts to force confessions of love from one another.
As the volumes progress, additional secondary characters emerge who are key to the story. Ishigami, a gloomy, unmotivated student council treasurer, is convinced Kaguya wants to kill him. Unaware of the ensuing battles, Ishigami has interfered in Kaguya’s plots before; he mistakes her dark, disapproving for bloodthirstiness. Ai Hayasaka is Kaguya’s valet, classmate, almost-sister, and accomplice in Kaguya’s plots. Sometimes it’s Kaguya or Shinogane who wins the chapter battles; sometimes, it’s the interfering friends and secondary characters.
This manga takes the shojo genre to the extreme in an overly dramatic and tongue-in-cheek way. Lovers of shojo and romance manga will thrill to watch the lengths characters go to try and force confessions of love, the detail with which they plot and plan, and their shortcomings when friends interfere. This character-driven story is funny and sweet at the same time, and highly
irreverent throughout, poking fun at its own genre. The unconventional, “battle” style plot works beautifully for this story of two great minds battling it out over matters of the heart.
—Kristy Kemper Hodge