Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero by E. Lockhart and Manuel Preitano

Whistle Cover Art

Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero by E. Lockhart and Manuel Preitano
DC Comics
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
ISBN: 9781401293222

Willow Zimmerman is a Gotham City teenager who is trying to make a difference in her spare time by protesting gentrification efforts in her neighborhood, Down River. She also needs money, and a job at a local job shelter is not enough to support her and her mom. When an old friend of the family offers Willow a job which allows her to use her smarts and pays well, she takes it, even though the job may technically be illegal. However, she begins to realize that the job is connected to a larger plan to take over her neighborhood, and while investigating, she is attacked. Things turn even stranger when she discovers she can communicate with the dog who saved her life. To stop things from getting worse, she decides to be the hero her neighborhood needs. 

Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero brings a fresh look at Gotham City that honors its comic book history and also adds new realistic elements to them. Willow is an interesting protagonist and readers will empathize with her as she figures out what type of person she wants to grow into. Her relationships with her mom, her new friend at school, and furry friend, Leibowitz, are all compelling and motivate Willow in her decisions. There are even Gotham City rogues readers will recognize, but they never draw attention away from Willow’s story. The art takes time to depict Willow’s character growth with a variety of style choices that change throughout, and the design of the city helps ground this superhero story in a realistic setting.

This title has something to offer to fans of superhero comics and fans of realistic stories with a hint of fantasy. Recommend this to readers who enjoyed Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn and Nicole Goux and the book Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee. Fans of E. Lockhart’s young adult books such as We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud will enjoy the storytelling. 

—Rachel Johannigmeier

Other Nominated Titles

  • The Way of the Househusband, v.6 by Kousuke Oono (September 21, 2021)
  • Seen: Rachel Carson by Birdie Willis and Rii Abrego (March 9, 2021)
  • The Backups: A Summer of Stardom by Alex di Campi and Lara Kane (April 13, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams will feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation will be listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

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