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Jul 14

Get Started with Graphic Novels: Superheroes

Posted on July 14, 2017 at 12:15 PM by Elizabeth Land

Editor's Note: Visual Reads is a monthly series focusing on the York County Public Library's ever growing collection of graphic novels. Whether you are partial to super heroes or love to see a well-done adaptation of your favorite novel, we've got plenty to choose from.

Superhero Graphic Novels

Despite the widespread popularity of superheroes in movies and television series, many people have not yet picked up the format that started it all. Called comic books or graphic novels, this unique medium provides stories in a visual format. From classic superheroes to biographies to novel remakes to historical nonfiction, graphic novels can now fit into many different genres. This means there is now something out there for every reader. So join us as we give you tips for getting into visually stimulating worlds of graphic novels at the York County Public Library, starting with the classic comic book subject: Superheroes!

Classic Superheroes

What most of us think of as "comic books" relate the adventures of an intrepid individual that takes it upon him- or herself to save the world — often after discovering he has super powers. It is this familiar story that has spawned whole universes of characters, movies, television shows and more. The most popular publishers — Marvel and DC Comics — gave birth to such famous names as Superman, Batman, Iron Man and Spider-Man. Jumping in to this area can be daunting given the number of years these characters have existed, and the resulting avalanche of titles. Here are some suggestions for where to start when exploring these tales:

  • DC Universe: Secret Origins — For the first time in a single volume, it's the origins of: Wonder Woman, the Superman/Batman team, The Challengers of the Unknown, Martian Manhunter, the Justice League of America, Aquaman, The Flash, The Atom, Doctor Fate, Bizarro and many others, as they originally appeared in the 1950s and 1960s - the Silver Age of comics.
  • Watchmen — As former members of a disbanded group of superheroes called the Crimebusters start turning up dead, the remaining members of the group try to discover the identity of the murderer before they, too, are killed.
  • Earth One series — With this series, DC Comics recently began putting out brand-new retellings of the early adventures of some of their most famous superheroes. This is a great way to enjoy well-known characters, without getting overwhelmed by the decades and decades of storyline you feel you might have missed. York County has the Earth One series for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Teen Titans.
  • Secret Wars — Bringing together a number of Earth's super-powered individuals — both good and bad — this series is a great way to see some of your favorite Marvel heroes and villains in one book. Secret Wars starts with Marvel Universe's greatest heroes and villains getting kidnapped and pitted against one another by the powerful Beyonder on a distant world.
  • X-Men: Season One — Jean Gray joins four other teenage mutants at Professor Xavier's school, where they must come to terms with their emerging powers, their emotions, and Xavier's relationship with the evil Magneto while fighting for their lives. For those who have only seen the movies, this is a great way to explore the origin stories of some of the series' favorite characters.
  • Essential Hulk — Follows the adventures of Robert Bruce Banner, including the Gamma Bomb experiment that caused his transformation into the incredible Hulk, and the struggle to live with the monster inside of him. The ultimate issues of Stan Lee's original Hulk stories.
New or Revamped Characters

While classic characters might be familiar to a lot of readers, many of the most exciting superhero books being published these days are those that have introduced brand-new characters, or revamped old ones to make them exciting and new. Here are some of the best new titles available at the York County Library:

  • Faith — Orphaned at a young age, Faith Herbert — a psionically gifted "psiot" discovered by the Harbinger Foundation — has always aspired to greatness. But now this once ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she's always known she can be. Break out of the Marvel and DC Comics mold with this series.
  • Batgirl of Burnside — This soft reboot of the character envisions Barbara "Babs" Gordon as a PhD student living in Burnside, Gotham's version of Brooklyn. Fun and youthful, this reboot will appeal to the computer-savvy readers who recognize the sometimes dangerous influence technology can have on our lives.
  • Doctor Fate — The mystical Doctor Fate has been around since the 1940's. This latest reboot stars Khalid Nassour, an Egyptian-American med student. Being a twenty-something medical student has its own share of problems, but throw a new, unexpected identity as a superhero powered by an ancient mystic force on top of it? Things get pretty hairy quickly.
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl — The light-hearted Squirrel Girl was created in the early 1990's to combat the overwhelming darkness in the Marvel titles of the time. This 2015 reboot retains the fun, tongue-in-cheek quirkiness while placing her squarely in the 21st Century. Doreen Green has left her home at Avengers mansion to prove she can hack it on her own — literally — as a computer science major. Cue plenty of crime-fighting adventures, chatting with squirrels, and a few of your favorite classic villains to defeat with our heroine's unique flair.
  • Ms. Marvel — One of the best new superheroes, Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American girl from Jersey City who lives a conservative Muslim lifestyle with her family, suddenly acquires superhuman powers and, despite the pressures of school and home, tries to use her abilities to help her community. With cameos from Captain Marvel and Loki, this is a can't-miss title.