We don’t typically need an excuse to offer reading recommendations by the truckload. But as this year’s Comic-Con has just come to a close, now seemed a fitting time to take a look at this year’s best graphic novels for YA fans, because who does fandom better than YA? You’ll need some reading material to tide you over until the next comics mecca, and luckily 2015 has provided a bumper crop.
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3, by G. Willow Wilson
Last year’s reboot of the Ms. Marvel series introduced Kamala Khan, a heroine for our time. Kamala is a Muslim teenager and newly superhuman. In the second volume of her adventures, she’s on the trail of the Inventor, a villain with the head of a cockatiel who’s terrorizing her native Jersey City. To nab the evildoer, she enlists the help of an older, wiser mutant: Wolverine. What’s great about Kamala and the Ms. Marvel series in general: she does exactly what we’d do in the situation—fangirl excessively.
Once you’re finished with Volume 2, move ahead to the third volume, Crushed, which brings things back to a far more sinister entity than the Inventor: Valentine’s Day. Not only must Kamala navigate the school dance, but also Loki, an imp more mischievous than Cupid.
Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson
“Quirky” gets thrown around way too much in fiction these days, but Stevenson’s debut—culled from her popular webcomic—lives up to the distinction in every way. The most unusual aspect of Nimona is its point of view, that of the villains, who you’ll find yourself hopelessly endeared to. Nimona is a spunky, punky girl who installs herself as an apprentice to Lord Ballister Blackheart, classic evil genius and arch-nemesis (and maybe something more) to Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. As Nimona and Blackheart team up to prove Goldenloin and his ilk aren’t the heroes they’re cracked up to be, Stevenson probes stereotypes of good and evil, and gets you cackling in the process.
Gotham Academy, Vol. 1, by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl
You thought things were strange at Hogwarts? Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters? Wayside School? Nah, they’ve got nothing on Gotham Academy. As we follow Olive Silverlock’s academic career at the prestigious institution, we learn there’s more that’s rotten here than just Batman’s attitude. Olive uncovers hidden societies, ghosts, school secrets, and, as is customary, a mysterious boy or two.
Lumberjanes, Vol. 1, by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen
Ah, think back to those halcyon days of summer camp: roasting marshmallows, singing campfire songs, battling yetis. Well, that’s how it is at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are capable, smart, fierce young ladies, because their camp is ruled by mystery and supernatural oddities—three-eyed foxes anyone? Each of these besties have their own personalities, but they’re all part-Nancy Drew, part-Indiana Jones, which makes their adventures all the more pleasurable to watch.
SuperMutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki
Just like Hermione Granger, I was always interested in the classwork at Hogwarts. Because of Voldemort’s shenanigans each academic year, we really didn’t get to see as much of Hogwarts as a school as some of us might have liked. Enter SuperMutant Magic Academy, a prep school for the paranormally inclined that faces no existential threats. Here, it’s less about the students’ powers and more about the run-of-the-mill tragedies of adolescence, like awkward crushes and the body-consciousness of lizard-headed girls.
Yo, Miss: A Graphic Look at High School, by Lisa Wilde
As we’ve discussed, high school doesn’t require superpowers to be tough. The star of Yo, Miss is Wildcat Academy, a last-chance high school in New York City for at-risk students. By focusing on the lives of eight students, all chasing that most elusive of dreams—a diploma—Wilde imbues them with the dignity and humanity they deserve, but that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. This inside look at our public education system proves little is black-and-white when walking the halls of a school.
Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir, by Maggie Thrash
Put this one on your to-read shelf until its September 8 release—it’ll be well worth the wait. This peek at summer camp is all about young love, and all the uncertainty and anxiety that comes with it. Thrash recounts her time at Camp Bellflower for Girls with a sweetness and clarity that makes it easily relatable (the references to the Backstreet Boys don’t hurt either). Though she’d spent many summers at the camp before, all it takes is one chance encounter to change it all: she finds herself falling for someone unexpected, a female counselor. Get your tissues ready.
Edward Scissorhands, Vol. 1, by Drew Rausch and Kate Leth
A new Edward Scissorhands story set two decades after the end of the film. Do I even need to sell the rest?