Comic Books for Young Adults

This one’s for Amy, who’ll be starting her new library job soon: Comic Books for Young Adults, a guide for librarians wishing to integrate comics into their regular holdings. Pretty cool. I really enjoyed Joss Whedon’s Fray and I’ve found myself perusing the “Graphic Novels” section at Borders more often. The ones I want are all so expensive though! I’d love it if I could check them out of the library.


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  1. just got Fray myself and devoured it in one pre-sleep sitting! i don’t know from comic art and graphic novels, but the writing was classic Joss.

    between Buffy, Angel, Fray and his excellent NPR interview, he might very well make my top five list of living people i’d love to have dinner with. or better yet, several pints.

  2. ps: i spent a good 10+ minutes in my car in a Target parking lot listening to the end of the interview. so worth it!

  3. Cool, thanks for the link!

  4. Joss has just taken over one of the X-Men comics, Astonishing X-Men, for a 12 issue run, and judging by the comments on the Barbelith threads about his first issue (not to mention the thread on the preview of his second issue, which features some seriously nice John Cassaday artwork) he’s off to a good start. Another good sign is that one of the characters he’s using, Kitty Pride, is somewhat Buffyesque. (Joss mentions in his foreword to the Fray trade paperback that Kitty’s first appearance in the X Men comics back in the early 80s was a big influence on him.)

    In case you’re hesitant about jumping into a continuing storyline and not knowing forty years of backstory, I think you’ll probably be OK. Joss has taken over the title right after the conclusion of a really, really big storyline by the previous writer – think of it as the equivalent of the Buffy season 5 finale, only without any prospect that the dead woman will be resurrected any time soon. I think it’s fair to say that Joss will be expecting to have to explain some background details to new readers. Certainly by the time that Joss’ run on the title is released as a trade paperback it should be clearer how accessible Astonishing X Men will be to new readers.

  5. Just a belated supplement to my earlier comment to say that I read the first four issues of Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men today and I think anyone who enjoyed Fray and the X-Men films would enjoy it quite a bit. A couple of elements in the story will have even more impact if you know a little of the backstory of the two or three main characters who haven’t been in the films, but it’s a pretty good read regardless and there are some highly Whedonesque bits of dialogue.

    I’d expect Marvel will bring out a trade paperback collection of the first half a dozen issues before long, so if you’re still wanting to experiment with comics then Astonishing X-Men would be a good starting point. (If you do decide to buy it and want me to give you a little background information on the unfamiliar characters drop me an email and I’ll put together a summary. Just a paragraph or so would be all it’d take, just enough to help you get even more out of some of the surprises Joss springs on us along the way.)

  6. That would be excellent, John! Thanks. I’ll keep my eyes open for it.

  7. Just a couple of belated comics-related items of note. First, the trade paperback collection of Joss Whedon’s first story arc on Astonishing X-Men is out now. If you ever pick up a copy then my offer to write up a bit of background information on some of the characters who haven’t featured in a film yet is still open. (Having now read the entire story arc, I can definitely say that your appreciation of a subplot involving one of the characters who’ll be new to you will be enhanced if you know a little of her history.)

    Second, another recent comic series I think you might enjoy and which just happens to have been collected in a trade paperback is out. She-Hulk: Single Green Female, written by Dan Slott, features Jennifer Walters, a cousin of Bruce Banner (a.k.a. The Hulk) who came by her powers when Banner was required to give her an emergency blood transfusion in order to save her life. Unlike The Hulk, Walters retains her intellect when she turns big and green, and over the years she’s come to rather enjoy the more uninhibited, extroverted version of herself which her powers let out. (This Wikipedia article gives a bit more background information, though it also delves into facts and figures about just how strong and agile She-Hulk is to a rather daunting extent. The main significant point is that she doesn’t become as large and misshapen as the Hulk: she basically turns into a very athletic woman with much-greater-than-average strength and agility.) The thing is, Jennifer Walters isn’t simply a superhero: she’s a lawyer trying to establish herself in her career in between bouts of saving the world as one of the Avengers superhero team.

    Although the first story arc, collected in the trade paperback, does feature a few characters from other Marvel universe comics the writer provides enough context for you to pick up necessary story elements as you go. Oh yes, and it features a delightful extended cameo from Spider-Man and a couple of characters you’ll recognise from the Spider-Man films. She-Hulk spends as much time being a lawyer as she does a big green Amazon, and there’s some delightful humour in between the superheroics.

    For an alternative view, see this post by well-known comic blogger Johanna Draper Carlson which gives her much more comics-literate view as to why this latest take on the character is such accessible fun.

  8. Really, really excellent post, John. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for both the X-Men and She-Hu. Thanks!

  9. Oh yes, there’s one other series I should have mentioned in that last comment: Oni Press has published 3 collections of a series called Hopeless Savages (written by Jen Van Meter, working with various artists over the course of the series), about a pair of original punk rockers and their kids. Once again, Johanna Draper Carlson describes the books much better than I can. ‘Tis good stuff.

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