I’ve spent the last few weeks reading through my stack of graphic novels and one-shot comics. Here are four of the best that will suit younger readers from kids to teens.
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Ben 10: For Science! By C.B. Lee, Art by Mattia Di Meo and Eleowora Bruni
Recommended for: Tweens and up
I really enjoyed the Ben 10 graphic novel—The Truth is Out There—that I picked up and read over the summer, so when another one crossed my path, I decided to give that one a read too. In For Science!, Ben and his cousin Gwen are off to the Stars Beyond science camp for the week. Gwen is very excited and immediately signs up for the Space track, while Ben begrudgingly picks Robotics, the only one that sounds even vaguely interesting—he can’t understand why so many kids are excited at the prospect of “doing homework for a week.”
Of course, there’s another reason why the pair have signed up for the camp. Legend has it that a “huge metallic beast with giant glowing eyes” has been seen in the area and occasionally steals projects and batteries from the camp, so Ben and Gwen are going undercover to find out the truth. As their investigation proceeds, they find out there’s more to this urban myth than they first thought and Ben realizes that science might be more fun than he imagined.
As usual, Ben gets to employ his Omnitrix watch and transforms into a range of aliens and chaos ensues when one of the biotech projects gains a life of its own after an accident. There’s plenty of excitement when the kids sneak out of their dorms at night to investigate, and some kids may even get a few mild scares, but this book is more about friendship than frights.
This is another short, sweet story that will appeal to kids who love aliens, robots, science, and everything else connected as well as Ben 10 fans.
The Addams Family: The Bodies Issue by Zoe Quinn, Art by Philip Murphy, Maria Keane, and Valentina Pinto
Recommended for: Tweens and up
I have always been a fan of The Addams Family but was unimpressed by the look of the latest film. While I appreciate that the character designs are based on the original comics, the style simply didn’t appeal to me. However, pushing that aside, I decided to pick up The Addams Family: The Bodies Issue, a one-shot from IDW comics.
In The Bodies Issue, Wednesday has become disillusioned with life. Bored with the usual games of torture and beheading with Pugsley, she craves new forms of malevolence to inflict on her family and the world. One evening, she comes across a copy of Eleventeen magazine filled with articles on purity rings, friendship, and romance. It’s exactly what she was looking for and soon Wednesday is taking advice from its pages, livening up her mother’s wardrobe (literally), helping her father get glowing skin (with the help of nuclear waste), and giving several family members makeovers. Soon her parents realize that their daughter is growing up and they need to allow her to move into the next stage of her life, as only the Addams family could.
I really enjoyed this short book. As a parent to a tween myself, I recognized Wednesday’s push against the confines of her home and her family, her desire to establish herself as an individual, and also her parents’ concerns about where and how to set new boundaries, even if the issues Gomez and Morticia face aren’t (thankfully) ones I generally have to concern myself with.
This is a short, sweet, and macabre story that will appeal to Addams Family fans and may also help convert some young readers to the clan. I’m planning to share the story with my son and would recommend it to pre-teens and up, assuming you can trust them not to take too much inspiration and start guillotining their siblings…
Blossoms 666 by Cullen Bunn, Art by Laura Braga and Matt Herms
Recommended for: Teens and up
Sticking with the macabre, I also picked up a copy of Blossoms 666 by Cullen Bunn. This twisted tale from Archie comics turns Cheryl and Jason Blossom into something a whole lot more wicked than their Riverdale TV show equivalents.
The pair have been raised knowing that one will descend to the throne of hell and become the Antichrist, and now they’re on the brink of adulthood, that sibling rivalry has become more intense than ever. After a pool party at Blossom Mansion attracts unwanted attention toward the twins, they decide on a competition to decide which one of them should be crowned. Whoever can corrupt good, wholesome, girl-next-door Betty Cooper and persuade her to their way of thinking, would be deserving of the crown. However, a spanner is immediately thrown into the works when a new arrival in Riverdale throws everything into question—even their claim to the throne.
Blossoms 666 is a horror story in the style of 1970s pulp fiction, with plenty of the high-camp drama we’ve come to expect from Riverdale mixed with scenes that are truly twisted. I enjoyed seeing Cheryl’s character let loose with a streak of pure evil and I also loved the color palette which stuck to mostly muted shades of blue and grey except for the reds with shone out from the page with a vivid, almost gory strength. I’m already hoping for more as the ending is clearly set up to allow for a sequel.
Fans of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will no doubt love this comic and Riverdale fans may do too, assuming they’re happy to see their favorite characters go through hell at the hands of the Blossom twins.
Betty & Veronica: Senior Year by Jamie Lee Rotante, Art by Sandra Lanz and Kelly Fitzpatrick
Recommended for: Teens
I stuck to the little town of Riverdale for this final book, a decidedly less evil incarnation of the Archie gang. Betty & Veronica: Senior Year by Jamie Lee Rotante has a fairly self-explanatory title and sees the two best friends navigating the entirety of their final year at high school in a modern setting. Over the months they have to deal with college applications, internships, family drama, and problems with boys, as well as challenges to their friendship with one another.
All in all, this was a somewhat formulaic story that didn’t surprise me in any way. In fact, despite only finishing the book a few days ago, the plot was so nondescript that I’m struggling to remember enough about it to write this review! That being said, the book was pleasant enough to read over a couple of lunch breaks and came with some good messages for teens, the primary one being that simply talking to your friends about what’s happening instead of making assumptions would save a whole lot of drama. That’s a message that seems pretty common in the YA novels I have read this year as well.
The artwork by Sandra Lanz and Kelly Fitzpatrick came across a little bland but it reminded me of the Sweet Valley High comics I’ve read in the past. The color palette here is fresh and bright in a watercolor style and is a world away from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and other recent Archie titles.
This book certainly won’t break any new literary ground, but fans of Betty and Veronica will most likely enjoy it and it will make for some easy holiday reading.
GeekMom received copies of these books for review purposes.