Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Duel by Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley

Fantasy-loving Lucy starts sixth grade in the school where her popular eighth grade sister, GiGi, is a fencing champion. Lucy and GiGi have not always gotten along, but things have gotten worse between them since their fencing instructor father passed away. When GiGi purposefully trips Lucy in the cafeteria, Lucy pulls out GiGi’s foil and challenges her to a duel. Threatened with being pulled from the team, GiGi concocts a plan: she’ll tell the coach that Lucy, who hasn’t fenced since her father’s death, is trying out for the team and needs to compete against her. 

Duel explores the complexities of relationships with family and friends, bullying, and grief. GiGi struggles with perfection, while Lucy is dealing with her sister’s bullying, and both feel abandoned by their mother. Aaron Bagley’s illustrations are highly detailed and brightly colored. Duel is told in both sister’s perspectives: Lucy’s thought boxes are colored in yellow and GiGi’s in purple to help the reader distinguish between the two. Lucy and GiGi are presented as biracial and supporting characters are a variety of different skin tones and body types.

Readers who enjoy stories with sibling rivalries like Sisters by Raina Telgemeier or Twins by Varian Johnson will find much to love here. Action-filled fencing scenes will entice readers of sports comics like Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and Swim Team by Johnny Christmas.

—Kim Keown Farnsworth

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