Staff Picks: Superheroes for Middle & High Schoolers
They know about so many of the characters and want to read all kinds of comics, but what are the best choices for their age level? Here are a variety of superheroes from well to lesser-known and everything in between that would be perfect to start them on their superhero journey!
Kate Karyus Quinn
Piper and Sloane could not be more different. Piper is happy-go-lucky, popular, and can pull the door off of a car. Sloane is a loner with a sharp remark and an even sharper wit. Piper wants to be a superhero but seems to keep putting her foot in it whenever she tries, and Sloane has to use her smarts to help her lawless grandfather in order to help her mom make ends meet. When the criminal elements of the city turn their eyes toward a device using experimental technology, the girls cross paths. Sloane to steal the device and Piper to try and stop her. With an unplanned activation of the device, the two girls swap bodies. Will they figure out how to switch back? And will they learn a thing or two about how the other half lives along the way?
Both realistic fiction fans and superhero geeks will find something to love in this body-swap tale with a superhero twist.
What happens when you are on the other side of an argument with a friend? Well, when you are a high-powered superhero, you cause some damage, physically as well as mentally. Two sides with Captain America on one and Iron Man on the other. Both think they are right, neither is willing to compromise, and lines are being drawn tearing friends and family apart. What will be the final wedge between the superhero community?
Fans of any of the Marvel movies, but specifically Captain America's Civil War. For those who like stories that have crossover characters and long well drawn out plots.
Girl on Fire
Loretta "Lolo" Wright is just trying to fit in when she's smarter than the older kids in her tenth-grade class. When she suddenly discovers she has powers, she attracts the attention of a local gang leader. Can Lolo figure out how to protect her family?
Readers who want to read about heroes but don't necessarily want the usual superhero tropes.
Racism; violence; racial profiling and police violence
House of M
Brian Michael Bendis
What happens when you wake up one day and your life is completely different? Well, if you are Wolverine you look for answers. Even if those answers are hard and seem to shatter the hopes and dreams of everyone you know. Wanda Maximoff, a mutant, and member of the X-men and Avengers seems to be creating a new world where all your dreams can come true, including her deepest desires. What will happen as those around her try to manipulate her already fragile mind and what will happen when she discovers that her dreams can never come true?
Fans of WandaVision on Disney+ and any fan of X-Men and Avengers will enjoy this.
Violence, grief, death
All Max wants is to be accepted as the boy he is and transition successfully. However, he's inherited the role of magical guardian to keep the forces of an ancient dark foe at bay; his mother and cat companion insist that Max has to embrace his femininity in order to fulfill his duties. Can Max figure out a way to save the world and stay true to himself?
Fans of the magical girl genre looking for a fresh take on tropes (or more openly queer representation) would do well to pick up this series.
This story includes misgendering (deadname is blanked out);,homophobia;, and transphobia.
Miles Morales: Shock Waves
When Miles Morales, aka Spider-Man, hears about the earthquake that devastated his mother's homeland of Puerto Rico, he wants to do something to help. He creates a fundraiser to help the people rebuild the island, and to his surprise gets the attention of a huge corporation that wants to be a sponsor. But when a parent of a new student at his school goes missing and the thread starts to lead to this big corporate sponsor, Miles has to figure out how he is going to untangle this web and make things right.
Read our full review here
New and old superhero fans will love this funny kid Spider-Man.
Black, Guatemalan-American |
Afro-Puerto-Rican, Black, Puerto Rican |
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur
Being a genius (and possibly the smartest person alive) means very little to Lunella because she has the Inhuman gene, and no amount of smarts can solve that problem. Well, maybe it can, if she can get the right equipment. But instead of removing her Inhuman side, Lunella finds herself learning to live with another big problem: Devil Dinosaur, who has somehow been teleported from the distant past. Lunella's life was complicated enough, but now there's going to be time travel, space travel, and even a war between realms in her future!
A middle school hero story like this has pretty broad appeal, because after all dinosaurs are awesome. Moon Girl can pull in readers who enjoyed science fiction comics like Zita the Spacegirl, Hilo, or even CatStronauts, and of course dinosaur fans. Because Lunella's adventures span so many different ranges of science fiction, fans of the genre really are likely to find something to enjoy. And since this series ties in with other heroes a fair amount, it can pull in fans of Spider-Man, Thor, and even the Fantastic Four.
Nightwing, Vol. 1: Leaping into the Light
A great introduction to Nightwing and the Bat-family in a fun lighthearted way! A passing of a family member leaves Dick Grayson with a sizeable sum of money and what better way to spend it than giving back to the community he lives in. Bludhaven is in desperate need of cleaning up and now that a dangerous villain is removing hearts from victims, it is up to Nightwing to figure out what is going on with the help of some other family members.
Readers who love action comics with heroes that are not dark and broody and anyone who loves Batman.
Nubia: Real One
Nubia has the power of an Amazon, but America is not ready for someone like her to have that much power. Nubia spent her life living under the radar with her moms, but as she sees more and more injustice in the world, she's finding it harder to hold back and not use her powers to protect people and right wrongs.
Read our full review here
Superhero lovers and social justice fighters alike will find something to love in Nubia.
Racism, Police Violence
Black, Jamaican-American |
Our story follows Ashley, a 13-year-old who's been tossed around the foster system. Her current foster parents seem very kind, but she's having trouble opening up to them. One day she finds these odd body paints and discovers they give her special powers so she sets about trying to even out the bad her dad has done by being the newest superhero in town: Primer. Of course, things aren't that easy but all's well that ends well in this superhero story for middle school readers.
Though this is a superhero story, the strong themes of feeling afraid to be vulnerable and wanting to find your own way in the world separate from your parents mean this can be a great pick for readers who haven't really read superhero stories but enjoy the Awkward series or Invisible. The art angle means this can be recommended to readers who like to flex their creativity or read stories focused on creative pursuits, like the Doodleville or Click series.
Lupe is a normal teenage girl who gets powers during her quinceañera. Over the course of the year that her powers last, Lupe takes on a lot more dangerous responsibilities while navigating school, crushes, and family.
With adorable art, plenty of humor, and strong coming-of-age elements, readers who enjoy superhero comics like Squirrel Girl or Ms. Marvel will find much to enjoy here.
Brief discussion of suicidal thoughts
Quinton's life both changed entirely and not at all after the Event, which gave him the power of invulnerability, because as far as he can tell his thin frame isn't terribly good at stopping hits even if they don't hurt. Things start to go from daily stressful to much worse stressful when a villain enters the scene. Thankfully he finds a mentor in local hero Glow, who helps him start looking at his newfound and unwanted powers from a different angle, how to use them to his advantage, and how to go from Quinton to Quincredible.
Since this story comes from a publisher other than Marvel or DC, there's no connection to any existing mega franchises, which can be refreshing for some readers, especially teens who want to read something others haven't. There are definitely some parallels to DC titles like Nubia: Real One with the activism angle and discussion of classism and racism, and the natural parallel to Spider-Man as a hero who doesn't have a bodybuilder shape and uses his head to use his powers in clever ways. And because there are only two volumes, it's a good one to hand to readers that want that superhero story, but not the long tangled line of mainline comics.
Black, Filipino |
She-Hulk, Vol. 1: Jen, Again
Jen is back and is rebuilding her life. Practicing law again, running into old friends who need law help, and trying to stay out of trouble, but instead, trouble falls into her life!
Fans of superheroes who are not rich and whose life is not all put together. Fans of the television show who wants to see more of Jen's adventures.
Superman Son of Kal-El 1: The Truth
Imagine if your dad was Superman. The Man of Steel. The Last Son of Krypton. The Man of Tomorrow. Now, imagine that your mom is Lois Lane. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. So intimidating. Yet, Johnathan Kent takes all of this in stride as he stands in for his father when Superman has to leave for an extended amount of time and he even has some of his mom's journalistic spirit!
Readers who are interested in the kids of superheroes who have big shoes to fill. For those who enjoy stories of heroes who are inexperienced and still trying to figure out how they should balance life and relationships.