Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
X-23, vol. 2: X-Assassin by Mariko Tamaki and Diego Oloregui
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
After a string of scientists are murdered, cloned sisters Laura and Gabby are called in to help the police with the investigation. While on a mission to intercept the killer of the next potential target, they discover that the killer is actually a new cloned version of themselves, the X-Assassin. Following her trail leads them back to their ultimate nemesis in their mission to stop the misuse of clone experimentation—their own creator—as well as an army of more X-Assassins. But killing the X-Assassins means killing the only biological family Laura and Gabby have. How can they stop the egregious cloning experimentation of their DNA without harming their new sisters?
This second volume of the new X-23 series continues to develop the sweet yet occasionally fraught relationship between Laura and Gabby. Gabby’s good-natured humor and youthfulness is a perfect foil to Laura’s world-weary seriousness. Despite their differences of opinion and approach toward their missions, it is their relationship continual support of each other that really shines in this series. Gabby’s youthful moralism and moodiness frustrate Laura, but Gabby is also the only person who is able to pull Laura out of the trauma of her past and give her a reason to live for the future. Oloregui’s artwork perfectly captures the motion and action of the story as well as the subtle emotional expressions of the characters. Equal parts humorous and heartbreaking, this series is a must-read for fans of X-Men, Wolverine, and X-23.
Guts by Raina Telgemeier
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
In this autobiographical comic by Raina Telgemeier, tummy troubles turn into chronic sickness, while increasingly difficult days at school and at home complicate things for the tween Raina. When Raina’s mom convinces her to try therapy, she learns coping mechanisms and breathing exercises to help her deal with her stomach issues and her anxiety. We eventually discover along with Raina that she suffers from an anxiety disorder as well as mild irritable bowel syndrome.
In the bright color palette used for Drama and Smile, Telgemeier’s signature style, and flair for likable, relatable characters is on full display in this graphic novel. Telegmeier explores anxiety and the somewhat cringe-worthy aspects of her irritable bowel syndrome with a candor and clarity that will be unsurprising for fans of her earlier work and will surely win her new admirers as well. With its storylines about finding one’s place in a new school environment, dealing with siblings, family and changing friends, and anxiety, Guts will resonate with a broad range of readers and will be a sure hit with tweens, teens or anyone who is struggling with anxiety.
Hand to readers who enjoy the honesty and heart found in novels like those by Judy Blume and Jacqueline Woodson, and the colorful panels and bright art Telgemeier is known for.
New World by David Jesus Vignoli
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
As cultures collide with the discovery of the New World, an unlikely trio of heroes work together to combat a supernatural force. This title weaves the stories of three characters from unique backgrounds—a Native Indian seeking revenge against those who invaded her land, an African musician fighting for freedom against those who enslaved him, and a Portuguese sailor in search of redemption. These three, connected by fate, work together to free the New World from the darkness and violence of the old.
The author and illustrator of New World intertwines the cultures of his personal heritage to explore the European discovery of the Americas, adding a magical realist twist to this dark history. Anchored by a strong, fearless female protagonist, with beautiful and unique illustrations and a compelling tale.
This title is a good choice for fans of magical realism, early Latin American history, and authors like Laura Ruby, Meg Medina, Margarita Engle, and Anna-Marie McLemore.
— Thea Hashagen