Diana’s lasso of truth shows this one is a winner.

WONDER WOMAN

WARBRINGER

A graphic adaptation of Bardugo’s (Ninth House, 2019, etc.) 2017 novel of the same name.

Diana was molded from clay by her mother, Hippolyta, and given life by the goddesses. Because she was made and did not earn her place in Themyscira, Diana is determined to prove herself to her mother and her fellow Amazons by winning the race to Bana-Mighdall. Midway through the race, Diana witnesses a ship exploding and sets aside her desire for victory to save a girl, Alia. When Alia’s presence on the island wreaks havoc, Diana learns she is a Warbringer, cursed to bring death and destruction everywhere she goes. Diana and Alia flee Themyscira, return Alia to New York City and, with the help of Alia’s brother and two of their friends, work to break the curse. The introduction of necessary background information doesn’t always flow well with the conversation bubbles, and red-outlined text boxes showing Alia’s thoughts feel insufficient for the introduction of a second narrator. Well-paced and funny, where this adaptation stands out is in the illustrations that show people of color in a nuanced way. The cast is diverse—Diana appears white, Alia and her brother are biracial (black and Greek), their two friends are cued as South Asian, fat, and queer and Afro-Latinx respectively. Readers need not have read any other Wonder Woman stories to enjoy this one.

Diana’s lasso of truth shows this one is a winner. (Graphic novel. 13-17)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4012-8255-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: DC Ink

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking.

I AM NOT STARFIRE

Sixteen-year-old Mandy considers herself the anti-Starfire: Unlike her scantily clad superhero mother, she doesn’t have superpowers, can’t fly, and doesn’t even own a bathing suit.

Mandy dyes her hair and dresses in all black to further call out how different they are. Mandy’s best friend, Lincoln, whose parents were born in Vietnam, insightfully summarizes this rift as being down to an intergenerational divide that occurs whether parents and children come from different countries or different planets. Mandy tries to figure out what kind of future she wants for herself as she struggles with teenage insecurities and bullying, her relationship with her mom, and her budding friendship (or is it something more?) with her new class project partner, Claire. Yoshitani’s vibrant and colorful stylized illustrations beautifully meld the various iterations of Starfire and the Titans with the live-action versions of those characters. Together with Tamaki’s punchy writing, this coming-of-age story of identity, family, friendship, and saving the world is skillfully brought to life in a quick but nuanced read. These layers are most strongly displayed as the story draws parallels between cultural differences between the generations as evidenced in how the characters address bullying, body positivity, fatphobia, fetishization and sexualization, and feminism. This title addresses many important concepts briefly, but well, with great pacing, bold art, and concise and snappy dialogue. The cast is broadly diverse in both primary and secondary characters.

Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. (Graphic fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-126-4

Page Count: 184

Publisher: DC Comics

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

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DEAD WEIGHT

MURDER AT CAMP BLOOM

Four teens attempt to solve the mystery of a murdered camp counselor.

Latinx Jesse’s family makes her attend Camp Bloom, a summer weight-loss camp, while black Tony is excited to be with his buff role model, Counselor Cory, who is white. Third-year attendee Noah, also white, wants to prioritize his health and lose weight but is unsure whether he can. One night, Jesse sneaks out to procure contraband chocolate. Noah follows her, and both stumble upon Counselor Cory’s murder. Purely by chance, the crime turns out to have been documented on Jesse’s camera. Noah looks for help from Kate (also white), who finds Camp Bloom a safe refuge from homophobia. Kate includes Tony, heartbroken that his mentor is dead, in the investigation. Armed with a list of the camp counselors and a camp map, the foursome decides to find the murderer. Close-ups of the protagonists convey great emotion and are interspersed with more active panels featuring the quartet and other characters. As the teens work through the suspects, another murder occurs, and the young sleuths nearly become victims themselves. Exacting readers may be disappointed by the lack of clues or clear motives for the murders and by the strange ending. Those willing to forgive these shortcomings will find this lighthearted mystery with diverse characters an accessible, if not entirely satisfying, read.

Passable. (Graphic novel. 13-17)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62010-481-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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