After my review of Hero by Mike Lupica, I’ve been trying to make a list of good superhero books and as it turns out, there aren’t many. Or, at least, I haven’t read many. I couldn’t even come up with ten. So here are six to start with, and maybe I’ll update this post as I read more. (Update: One more makes seven!)
1. Hero by Perry Moore – This is brilliant. Thom Creed is the son of a superhero, and when he discovers superpowers of his own, he struggles to keep them from his father, along with the secret of his homosexuality. He joins a League of superheroes and has several strange encounters with a mysterious vigilante. It’s a superhero story and an identity story and a love story, and it’s fantastic.
2. Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn (among others) – I normally find Marvel and DC’s collections of comics and graphic novels too large, intimidating, and confusing to get into, but Runaways is new enough that it isn’t a problem. And it’s so good! A group of teenagers discover that their parents are super-villains and they leave home to try and use their own developing superpowers to stop them.
3. Quantum Prophecy: The Awakening by Michael Carroll – Yet another book about the children of superheroes. Soon after Danny and Colin discover their abilities, they are thrown into the middle of a battle that ended long ago but is starting again. As they learn about themselves and their families, it becomes harder and harder to know who to trust. This is the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to continuing with book two.
4. Batgirl: Year One by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon – I’ve never really been a Batman fan, but there’s something very compelling about this beautifully illustrated graphic novel about Batgirl. After Barbara Gordon is rejected from both the Police Academy and the Justice League, she takes it upon herself to follow in Batman’s footsteps and soon finds herself with a dangerous new enemy. Plus, she’s a librarian, so…bonus points!
5. Echo: Moon Lake by Terry Moore – This is the first volume in a series about a young woman whose life is changed after an explosion in the sky over the desert. Drops of a strange, liquid metal fall to the ground and cover Julie’s skin. She can neither remove nor control the breastplate that forms, and the research institute behind the explosion is looking for her to retrieve the metal. The illustrations are black and white, but they’re lovely and the plot is quite enticing. I’ll be interested to see where the story goes.
6. Animorphs by K.A. Applegate – Funnily enough, I’ve never really thought of the Animorphs as superheroes, but what else would you call a group of teens who are given the ability to turn into animals in order to stop a race of parasitic alien slugs from taking over the earth? Of course, this series is much more than that. It’s about war and friendship and hope and it’s near and dear to my heart. Sadly, it is no longer in print, but look for a re-release of the first couple books coming in May. If all goes well, the whole series may get an update.
7. Young Avengers by Various Authors and Artists – Like Runaways, this is a relatively new story in the Marvel universe about a group of teen superheroes. Most of them are children of previous Avengers and they fight criminals and super-villians despite the disapproval of the adult Avengers. There have been several crossover issues between Young Avengers and Runaways, so I recommend reading both series.