Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2021) Nominees Round Up, October 22 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru
DC Comics
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
ISBN: 9781779504210

In 1946, Lan-Shin (Roberta) Lee and her family move from Chinatown to central Metropolis and attempt to fit in with their neighbors. But when the Klan begins harassing the Lees, Roberta must team up with new friends to help Superman take down the Klan in this smart, action-packed adventure.

Gurihiru’s classic rounded art style harkens to the 1940s when the original radio series The Adventures of Superman (upon which Superman Smashes the Klan is loosely based) first aired. Against this familiar superhero backdrop, Yang creates a well-written, fast-paced story that thoughtfully investigates issues of race and power. Although certain subtexts may speak directly to an East Asian audience, the broader message—solidarity in the face of a shared tomorrow—will resonate powerfully across larger immigrant and BIPOC communities. The final elucidating essay in the back is a must-read, further contextualizing the story of Superman and the Lees within the greater picture of America.

Readers who enjoy superhero stories may also like Yang’s New Super-Man series and the standalone The Shadow Hero. Fans of gutsy teen protagonists like Roberta will also enjoy Quin from Rodney Barnes’s Quincredible and Riri from Eve Ewing’s Ironheart.

—Crystal Chen

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Granddaughter by Brea Grant and Yishan Li
Six Foot Press
Publication Date: October 4, 2020
ISBN: 9781644420294

Goth teen Mary Shelley has no interest in following in the footsteps of her famous ancestor and the rest of the women in her family—becoming a writer. But there is another family legacy that she must also come to terms with—monster healing!

This story of a teenage descendant of Mary Shelley strikes a fun balance between the very specific weirdness of a world in need of a monster doctor and the universal relatability of a teenage girl trying to figure out who she wants to be among various external and familial pressures. The art in this story is the highlight, conveying Mary’s frustration with her family and her choices while also highlighting the weirdness and humor of her world.

A good choice for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Runaways

—Thea Hashagen

Wonderland, vol. 4-5 by Yugo Ishikawa 
Seven Seas
Publication Date: November 19, 2019; March 17, 2020 
ISBN: 9781642757323, 9781645052272 

In volumes 4 and 5 of Wonderland, Alice and Yukko have been reunited, but the SDF is still after them. They try to get to safety before Iosif can catch up. The story of the Wonder Twins and Alice’s origin are revealed. A manhunt continues for all the superpowered children. 

Wonderland’s greatest asset is its incredible pacing. The book reads like a movie or TV show in real time. The stakes are high and there are so many unanswered questions. Teens will love trying to solve the mysteries in this story and will be eager to read more. Volume 6 will be the last volume, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to fit six volumes onto the shelves of most YA manga and graphic novel collections.

This story continues to have a Mad Max The Walking Dead vibe with a sprinkle of 24. This series is perfect for readers who have enjoyed Fairy Tale Battle Royale by Soraho Ina and Versailles of the Dead by Kumiko Suekane. Novels that might interest Wonderland fans include the Ash series by Malinda Lo and the Nightmare-Verse series (A Blade So Black) by L.L. McKinney. 

—Christine Pyles

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.