Introduction

Superheroes fill not only our comics pages, but also our screens and prose and beyond. While many readers know superheroes names and powers from pop culture osmosis, it can be trickier to know where to start when you want to dive in to superhero comics. Over decades, character’s stories have been rebooted, retconned, and completely reinvented so many times that anyone from outside that world may be puzzled as to how to find a way in.  The NFNT Features team and our reviewers are here to recommend just that: recommendations on where to start to enter the engaging world of superheroes.

America Chavez

Gabby Rivera

Joe Quinones

Not only is America Latinx and queer, but she's also a refreshing change from the superhero typical mode of spandex and straight hair. Though technically she first appeared in Young Avengers and her comic has been rebooted, this comic is the perfect place to start getting to know her. What past she has in comics gets addressed, and the story arc of the two volumes is fantastic. America decides, after having gotten a lot of accomplishments as a superhero, she should go to college. There's a lot going on in this comic, so get ready for a fast-paced story covering a wide range of topics.

Appeals to

Anyone who read Young Avengers where she was introduced and wanted to know more should absolutely pick this up, but also anyone who wants a teen superhero that doesn't feel too wholesome and childlike. Fans of Gabby Rivera will recognize her distinctive writing style, and the series is worth picking up for fans of her writing.

Creator Identities:

Puerto Rican |

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Latinx |

Lesbian |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Animal Man: The Hunt

Jeff Lemire

Travel Foreman

Something a bit different as far as superheroes go, Lemire and Foreman opened up a new era for the superhero known as Animal Man, a protector of nature who wields the power of animals in the fight against corruption. Bringing in strong family drama elements, this run of the character starts small, growing admittedly more complex as the series develops.

Appeals to

Part horror, part fantasy epic, the surreal art, and dark storytelling don't require much knowledge of the larger universe, and the series is tonally and stylistically different from more traditional superhero stories. For readers who like strong character relationships as well as darker, more mature stories, Animal Man offers a fascinating experience with a lesser-known DC character.

Recommended by

Josh Gauthier

Batgirl of Burnside

Cameron Stewart

Babs Tarr

This "soft reboot" is a great place to start for readers curious about Batgirl but who are not interested in keeping up with the current DC continuity. Batgirl of Burnside introduces a college-aged Barbara Gordon, who just moved to the hipster section of Gotham called Burnside. She is trying to navigate coursework, friends, dating, and being a vigilante in the age of social media. Batgirl faces new foes like twin assassins with an anime-inspired aesthetic and a glittery evil alter ego of herself, but the biggest threat to Burnside might be something Barbara created.

Appeals to

Fans of Ms. Marvel will love DC's take on a modern teenage superhero.

Content Notes

Alcohol use, guns and gun violence.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Daredevil The Man Without Fear

Frank Miller

John Romita Jr.

Pretty much every Daredevil series from the early 1980s on to the present has something good to offer, with many more hits than misses. This stand-alone origin story teams the author behind the revitalization in the 80's teams up with one of the most popular artists of the era, resulting in the definitive origin of Matt Murdock. After reading this, a new reader can jump to any run and follow the story with little to no confusion.

Appeals to

Fans of Frank Miller's early work, fans of the Daredevil TV series on Netflix. Readers of crime or legal dramas, readers of gritty superheroes.

Recommended by

Shawn Norton

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop

Kelly Thompson

Leonardo Romero

Full of snark and fun, readers who have seen Kate Bishop in Marvel's live-action offerings may appreciate seeing her comics storyline as she parts ways from Clint Barton (the other Hawkeye) in order to spread her wings and find her own course as a superhero--with plenty of shenanigans along the way.

Appeals to

Kate Bishop's Hawkeye is a fun character for readers who like their heroes with less experience but plenty of sass to make up for it. Relatively isolated from the larger stories of the Marvel universe, Bishop is a street-level hero finding her way in an often-complicated world full of heroes and villains.

Recommended by

Josh Gauthier

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon

Matt Fraction

David Aja

Providing much of the inspiration for the Disney+ Hawkeye show, Fraction and Aja's work on the character left a lasting mark on the character. The story largely follows Hawkeye when he is not off saving the world. With dynamic art and distinctive storytelling, this is an easy series to jump into and a definitive arc for the character of Hawkeye.

Appeals to

For older teens and adults, the series has fun with itself, blending a dry sense of humor with absurdity and some more mature elements. For those who like superheroes who aren't always battling for the fate of the universe, Hawkeye's everyday problems bring relatability to a series that continues to impress even a decade after its release.

Recommended by

Josh Gauthier

Mister Miracle

Tom King

Mitch Gerads

Reimagining a lesser-known DC character, King and Gerads craft a self-contained story that is part war epic, part intimate family drama. Though there is some complex worldbuilding underlying the story, its contained nature means that readers unfamiliar with the character can still dive in fresh for this character-driven adventure story.

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy strong characters, complex narratives, and epic adventures grounded in intimate struggles.

Recommended by

Josh Gauthier

Ms. Marvel: No Normal

G. Willow Wilson

Adrian Alphona

Kamala Khan wants to fit in with other Jersey City teens, but that's hard when you're brown and Muslim. When a mysterious mist grants her shape-changing powers, Kamala starts figuring out how to be a hero on her own terms.

Appeals to

Readers looking for a funny, creative, and determined superheroine would do well to pick up this first volume of Ms. Marvel. As someone who does not read a lot of Marvel comics, I found this a good series to start with because it does not require extensive knowledge of the Marvel universe.

Content Notes

Some bullying; gun violence

Creator Identities:

Muslim |

Main Character Identities:

Pakistani-American |

Muslim |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Silk

Robbie Thompson

Stacey Lee

Let's say you're interested in the Spider-verse, but aren't sure which Spider-person to choose. Silk is a great choice because she's also new, not just as the newest member of the Spider-team, but also within comics she's just now coming to grips with her powers and the trajectory of her life. She interacts with others on the team and has questions about what it means to be a hero and whether she qualifies. She's at that point of not quite being a teen, but not feeling like an adult, and is often lost with many aspects of life. It invites readers to learn alongside her, and it's not without some quips.

Appeals to

Silk is in an unusual situation that makes her really easy to pick up for a fairly wide range of readers, but teens in particular might identify most with her search for identity. Because she's new to the scene (and thus slightly less entangled in all the big comics events or past plotlines) and spends a fair amount of time outside of that living life, she can be a good choice for readers wanting to dip their toes into hero comics.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Teen Titans Beast Boy

Kami Garcia

Gabriel Picolo

High school senior Gar Logan is small, weak, and insecure. When he goes off his usual supplements, he discovers a slew of physical abilities. As he explores his new social status and powers, a mysterious man named Slade approaches him to offer help.

Appeals to

This Beast Boy story will appeal to both hardcore Teen Titans fans and new readers. The story has enough callback to the original Teen Titans but provides the concepts in a fresh way that won't confuse new readers. As a note, it's part of a trilogy where Gar's story will intertwine with Raven's!

Creator Identities:

Brazilian |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Thor Vol. 1: Goddess of Thunder

Jason Aaron

Russell Dauterman

Overwhelmed with where to start with Thor comics, why not start with a new Thor? After the defeat of Thor on the moon, he is no longer worthy to wield Mjolnir, but another, a woman, is called by Mjolnir to wield it, just as Frost Giants are on the brink of waging war with Earth. Who is this new figure who is worthy of wielding the powers of Thor? Who is really pulling the strings of the Frost Giants? And is this new Thor up to the task of protecting the earth and easing the unrest brewing in Asgard?

Appeals to

Anyone who loves to see a strong lady kick butt and take names.

Content Notes

Sexism, Ableism

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Young Avengers

Kieron Gillen

Jamie McKelvie

The Young Avengers have a long history, but this is a reboot of the group with the comic actually starting with them actually forming into the Young Avengers proper, thanks to of all people Kid Loki. The team this time is Wiccan, Hulkling, America Chavez, Marvel Boy, and Hawkeye (no not that one), and as generally upper teens to young adults, they're in an interesting place as people and heroes. Each character gets their own moment to shine within the story, and it doesn't feel forced. Young Avengers feels real, despite dealing with threats outside time and space.

Appeals to

Though this comic is older, especially in comic terms, Young Avengers has a lot of connections to characters now popping up in Marvel movies and shows, so it's worth picking up for fans of the MCU who want to know more about who they're seeing on the screen. With a three-volume series, this is a pretty quick one to pick up and still get a lot of the big fun of superhero comics: convoluted plots, big fights, and interpersonal drama. The combo of Gillen and McKelvie is always a hit, so anyone that loved comics like Wicked + Divine for the mix of human stories with mythic-level plots will pick up a similar feeling from this.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

  • Shannan

    Features Writer

    Teen Services Librarian, San Antonio Public Library | She/They

    Shannan waffled between English professor and librarian as career choices for all of college; eventually librarian won. She is a Teen Services Librarian with the San Antonio Public Library. When not running TTPRG games for their teens or teaching them how to bake, she's doing what she can to promote comics to anyone who will listen. At home they're likely deep in the middle of their latest cosplay project or watching B movies with her husband, while generally pushing the cats out of the way.

  • Josh

    Reviewer

    Technical Services Librarian | he/him

    Josh Gauthier is a technical services librarian in Maine. He has a BA from the University of Southern Maine and an MFA from the Stonecoast creative writing program. An active member of the Maine writing and theater communities, Josh is also a fiction writer, playwright, and co-organizer of multiple livestream series with literary focuses. You can find him discussing topics such as writing, comics, fiction, and pop culture on various social media platforms as @JG_Writer.

  • Tayla

    Features Writer

    Branch Librarian | She/Her

    Tayla Cardillo (she/her) is the Branch Librarian of the Oak Lawn Branch Library in Cranston, RI. She is also a committee member for the Rhode Island Teen Book Awards and a member of the ALA Graphic Novel and Comic Round Table. She completed her MLIS at the University of Rhode Island and her B.A. in English at Rhode Island College. Tayla has known that she wanted to be a librarian since she was 17 years old. When not doing library wizardry, she enjoys playing tabletop games and cosplaying.

  • Shawn

    Reviewer

    Materials Manager, Carroll County Public Library | He/They

    Shawn Norton is the Materials Manager for Carroll County Public Library in Maryland. Their specialties are adult fiction and graphic novels for all ages. They started reading comics with X-Men (Inferno and Fall of the Mutants era) and have moved on to read every genre and format of comics they can find. Whenever they're not reading, reviewing, and purchasing graphic novels they can be found playing dungeon crawl video games, Magic: the Gathering, and spending time with their family.

  • Megan

    Features Writer

    | She/Her

    Megan earned her MLIS from Simmons College and is currently the evening librarian at Bay State College in Massachusetts. She satisfies her voracious appetite for graphic novels and manga through regular visits to her local public libraries and puts her love of graphic novels to good use by adding to Bay State’s collection whenever possible. Megan maintains a personal blog, Ferret with a Strobe Light, where she discusses awesome books she’s read lately. When not engaged in reading or library work, she likes running, drinking tea, and working on her own stories and art.