Must Have: Dungeons & Dragons

Introduction

Dungeons & Dragons (or D&D) is a game powered by imagination. It allows a group of friends
to enter a fantasy world controlled by a Dungeon Master and interact with this world through
characters born from imagination. They fight monsters, save villages, and make life-changing
(or life-ending) choices based on dice rolls. Any fantasy archetype is available for players, from
the stalwart fighter to the cunning rogue, from a monk who throws hands to a wizard who throws
fireballs. Those who grew up playing D&D currently have a lot to celebrate as their hobby has
now firmly entrenched itself into the cultural zeitgeist, thanks to YouTube shows like Critical
Role that demonstrates how the game is played and how much fun it is to play with friends. The
game’s popularity means that media like graphic novels are bound to be influenced by the game
and its fantasy world.

Critical Role: The Chronicles of Exandria The Mighty Nein.

Critical Role

Season two of Critical Role features a whole new group of adventurers calling themselves the Mighty Nein, which are featured in Critical Role: The Chronicles of Exandria The Mighty Nein. This group includes a human wizard and goblin rogue who partnered together to perform cons as well as a tiefling cleric with a devilish appearance and a half-orc warlock who serves an ancient sea creature. They travel the high seas smiting sea monsters and avoiding death. Their individual stories are divided up into different books like Critical Role: Origins–Mollymauk Tealeaf written by Jody Houser and Critical Role: Origins–Jester Lavorre written by Sam Maggs.

Appeals to

Older teens/adults who are fans of Critical Role and D&D

Content Notes

Here is the link for the first book:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Role_(campaign_one)

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Library Edition: Series I & II Collection

Matthew Colville

Olivia Samson

A name that is quite synonymous with D&D is “Critical Role.” This YouTube series went from a group of voice actors showing off their D&D game to becoming a phenomenon that has spawned books based on the group’s characters and the world they inhabit. Season 1 of the series features the adventuring group Vox Machina, who even have their own animated show on Amazon Prime. Graphic novels retelling their adventures include Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Library Edition: Series I & II Collection. This group runs the gamut of archetypes and characters familiar to anyone who’s played D&D, from a massive ax-wielding barbarian to a promiscuous gnome bard. This unlikely group of heroes must save their world from eldritch gods and terrifying dragons.

Appeals to

Older teens and adults who are fans of Critical Role and D&D

Delicious in Dungeon

Ryoko Kui

Those who like low-stakes, low-stress fantasy adventures while also loving food, should get a taste of Delicious in Dungeon, Vol. 1, a manga written and illustrated by Ryōko Ku. In this world, the fantasy monsters are not only dangerous, but they’re delicious if prepared the right way. Laios and his company are having a tough dungeon crawl. A member of their party has been captured and they are running low on provisions. Luckily, there are plenty of monsters that turn out quite edible. Mixing the fun of D&D and cooking, Delicious in Dungeon is a light-hearted but stomach-filling adventure.

Appeals to

Teen readers who love cooking, manga, and D&D (not necessarily in that order)

Content Notes

Translator's name is Taylor Engel

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

DIE

Kieron Gillen

Stephanie Hans

Die by Kieron Gillen, author of The Wicked + The Divine series, is a more serious dark fantasy story for adults. The story follows seven friends who many years ago played a magical roleplaying game and barely escaped it with their lives. Now that they are adults who are barely surviving their mundane jobs and distant children. Soon, they are all once again pulled into that world and must defeat it once and for all. There are some unique reimaginings of D&D tropes, such as a paladin/knight who uses sadness to power up his attacks and a cleric who bargains with various gods rather than just worship one, and the fantasy world is a combination of science and sorcery. It’s also interesting to see these former friends with their cynical adult sensibilities coming to terms with their very real effects on this world.

Appeals to

For adult fans of D&D but who might not be fans of adulting.

Main Character Identities:

Gender Nonconforming |

Dungeon Critters

Natalie Reiss

However, there are plenty of D&D-like stories that have a lot of fun with their tropes, even taking them into unsuspecting and adorable places. A great adventure for middle-grade readers, Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter’s Dungeon Critters finds a squad of anthropomorphic animal adventurers fighting fantastic monsters with swords, magic, and heart. These critters follow all the archetypes of wizard, rogue, and barbarian, but they are quick with the one-liners and they even proclaim that the true magic is friendship. Plus, the simple animation style helps add to the childlike appeal of this book, making it perfect for middle-grade readers wanting to dip a toe into the sometimes intimidating world of D&D.

Appeals to

Middle graders who are interested in D&D and any fans of cute animated critters.

Creator Identities:

Lesbian |

Main Character Identities:

Gender Nonconforming |

Dungeons & Dragons: Evil At Baldur's Gate

Jim Zub

Apart from Critical Role, Wizards of the Coasts (the owners of D&D) have licensed the game to publisher IDW for stories that tell different types of fantasy worlds. One of the most popular worlds is the Forgotten Realms, which was featured in the movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and features a great deal of high fantasy. Dungeons & Dragons: Evil at Baldur’s Gate, written by Jim Zub, takes place in that world which has a group of adventurers trying to navigate a port town full of intrigue and monsters. Like many stories that have an ensemble cast of eclectic characters, there is one standout for their comedic relief: the physically powerful yet eternally naive ranger Minsc. Whether it’s his earnest yet confusing proclamations or his conversations with his hamster Boo (who he claims is a space hamster), Minsch’s antics are a great reminder of D&D games where the participants come together to battle monsters and have fun.

Appeals to

Younger teens who love D&D (and possible space hamsters)

Must Have: Shazam

Introduction

When young orphan Billy Batson says the magic word, a bolt of magical lightning comes from the sky and transforms Billy into Shazam, the World’s Mightiest Mortal, an adult-looking, Superman-like hero that has at his disposal abilities like the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, etc. Billy Batson/Shazam looks like he’s cut from the same archetype as Superman, but his purview is the magical threats within the DC universe. He is also perhaps the most misunderstood. Though he has been portrayed as old-fashioned and hopelessly naive, even his nemesis Dr. Sivana refers to him as “The Big Red Cheese,” this is because he is a child in an adult body, which happens to be a popular power fantasy among children who have very little autonomy. Approaching the world with a childlike earnestness, Shazam also operates in a world where magic is real and dangerous, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for fantastical whimsy that’s perfect for kids of all ages. Librarians with fantasy fans and superhero readers will find plenty to love about the World’s Mightiest Mortal (or the Big Red Cheese).

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!: Family Affair

Mike Kunkel

At least a spiritual successor to Jeff Smith’s take on Shazam, this all-ages comic doubles down on the whimsical fantasy, thanks mostly to the artwork and the subject matter. Billy is still an adult when transformed, while Mary transforms into the same girl whose superspeed reflects her own boundless energy. Even antihero Black Adam is portrayed as a boy Billy’s age until he discovers the secret word and then becomes his archenemy.

Appeals to

Librarians (and readers) looking for an all-ages book, fans of sibling dynamics.

Shazam and the Seven Magic Lands

Geoff Johns

Dale Eaglesham

A continuation of Geoff Johns’s story, this book finds Shazam and his foster siblings fighting crime while keeping their superheroic activities a secret. Then the kids discover a train car that takes them to the aforementioned magical lands where they encounter everything from talking tigers to tin men. This also leaves their world at the mercy of villains like Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind. Johns both creates a fun story with high stakes and expands the Shazam universe.

Appeals to

Fans of the movie and of Geoff Johns’s take on Shazam.

Shazam: A Celebration of 75 Years

Bill Parker

C. C. Beck

One jam-packed book that introduces every era of Shazam, from his days at Fawcett to his current movie starring Zach Levi. A collection of some of his best-known stories, this volume has everyone from the Shazam/Marvel family to antihero Black Adam. And at a price point of about $35 dollars (depending on where your library buys graphic novels), it won’t break the budget.

Appeals to

Those who want an overall introduction to Captain Marvel/Shazam, librarians who want to save money.

Shazam!: Origins

Geoff Johns

Gary Frank

The origin story that inspired the movie. Writer Geoff Johns, responsible for most of the current DC Universe, imagines Billy Batson as a brash teenager who still has a good heart, which is why he’s chosen to be the wizard Shazam’s champion. Of course, as he discovers his powers, he also uses the fact that he looks like an adult to buy beer while also doing good deeds. This story also introduces a different kind of Shazam family, featuring sidekick Freddy Freeman and older sister/voice of reason Mary Marvel.

Appeals to

Teens who love magic and protagonists who aren’t squeaky clean.

Content Notes

Appears in the final part of Shazam!: A Celebration of 75 Years. Also reprinted as Shazam!: Vol. 1 (The New 52).

Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith, writer of Bone, offers a retelling of Billy Batson becoming the champion of magic. This series is notable because it presents Billy Batson and Shazam as two distinct personalities who switch places when one utters the magic word. It also offers some charming dynamics between Billy and Shazam, as well as Billy and his younger superpowered sister Mary, while also offering some retro thrills that might remind readers of rollicking adventure comics like The Adventures of Tin-Tin and The Rocketeer.

Appeals to

Kids (and adults) who like adventure comics, superhero comics, and Jeff Smith

Content Notes

Issue #2 is contained in Shazam!: A Celebration of 75 Years

Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder

Judd Winick

Joshua Middleton

Judd Winick, writer of Batman: Under the Red Hood and Hilo, tells the story of the first meeting between the World’s Mightiest Mortal and the Man of Steel. This book features the oft-repeated ritual of two heroes bonding over battling giant monsters and maniacal supervillains, but Winick, who also wrote the powerful biographical book Pedro and Me, knows how to give the reader an emotional gut punch that makes the meeting between these two heroes all the more sincere.

Appeals to

Fans of Superman, Shazam, and of comic team-ups in general. Fans of emotional depth in superhero stories.

These titles showcase Shazam’s appeal across different age groups while also keeping the basics of the character intact. Readers might see a lot of themselves in Billy Batson, and they should feel the tiniest bit of electricity when he says his magic word.

Must Have: Wonder Woman

With the Wonder Woman movie’s rave reviews, there’s sure to be an increase in people wanting to check out her comic book origins. But after 75 years of adventures, figuring out which ones to read or select for your library can be challenging. Thankfully, Matthew Morrison has selected their personal top picks for Wonder Woman comics.

Wonder Woman: Rebirth
Vol. 1 – The Lies: 9781401267780
Vol. 2 – Year One: 9781401268800
Vol. 3 – The Truth: 9781401271411 (August, 2017)
Vol. 4 – Godwatch: 9781401274603 (November, 2017)

If you don’t get any other Wonder Woman comics from this list, this is the series to pick up. The DC Rebirth Wonder Woman book is actually telling two stories. The odd-numbered issues of the monthly comic have detailed Diana’s adventures in the present as she struggles to uncover the truth of her origins in the wake of discovering that everything she knew (i.e. The New 52 reality) was a lie. The even-numbered issues have retold Diana’s origin story in the new reality of Rebirth. Written by beloved author Greg Rucka with art by Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott, these books truly are wonders.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman
Vol. 1: 9781401253448
Vol. 2: 9781401258627
Vol. 3: 9781401261573

Collecting all of the volumes of DC Comics’ sadly short-lived digital-first Wonder Woman anthology series, these volumes are a real treat. Opening up with a story by Gail Simone (with art by fan-favorite Green Lantern artist Ethan Van Sciver) where Wonder Woman steps in to help clean up Gotham City on a dark night when Batman is busy, this anthology features great Wonder Woman stories from a variety of writers and artists.

Wonder Woman by George Perez
Vol. 1 : 9781401263751
Vol. 2 : 9781401269067 (June, 2017)

Not to be confused with the Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus editions (which collect the same stories, in much more expensive hardcover editions) these paperback volumes collect the first stories featuring Wonder Woman as we know her today. These two volumes are a must-have for any collection!

Originally assisted by writer Len Wein, artist George Perez took over writing and art duties on the Wonder Woman title in 1987, revamping her in the wake of Crisis On Infinite Earths. Gone were the invisible jet and the loss of her powers when bound by a man. This Wonder Woman flew under her own power and was every bit a match for Superman in the strength department.

Wonder Woman: War Of The Gods
ISBN: 9781401261078

Another classic tale by George Perez, this one depicts a battle between the Greek and Roman gods with Dianaand all the other heroes with ties to classical mythologybeing caught in the middle.

Wonder Woman: The True Amazon
ISBN: 9781401249014

Written and illustrated by Jill Thompson (creator of Scary Godmother and co-creator of Beasts of Burden), this book, while not canon, remains a great alternate universe story about a young Princess Diana learning a harsh lesson. A must read for any fan.

Wonder Woman ‘77
Vol. 1: 9781401263287
Vol. 2: 9781401267889

Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77
ISBN: 9781401273859 (October, 2017)

For those who can’t think of Wonder Woman without thinking of Lynda Carter, this is the Wonder Woman comic for you! Set in the same reality as the classic TV show, this book maintains the same sense of family-friendly fun. Look out for a collection of the crossover mini-series with the Adam West Batman ’66 comic later this year!

Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka
Vol. 1: 9781401263324
Vol. 2: 9781401271176 (July, 2017)

Collecting the first run by acclaimed author Greg Rucka (who is writing the current Wonder Woman series as part of DC Comics Rebirth line), this series is another must-have. Rucka is rightly regarded as a master when it comes to writing strong female characters and his efforts to work more mythology into Diana’s adventures were second to none. [Editor’s note: These were originally collected in a slightly different format in the early to mid 2000s, so you might already have them in your collection.]

 

The Legend of Wonder Woman
HC: 9781401267285
TP: 9781401274252 (November, 2017)

Collecting Renae De Liz’s excellent mini-series, this retro take on Wonder Woman’s origins set during World War II may prove an interesting contrast to the film, which is set during WWI.

 

Wonder Woman by Gail Simone

Wonder Woman: The Circle
HC: 9781401219321
TP: 9781401220112

Wonder Woman: Ends Of The Earth
HC: 9781401221362
TP: 9781401221379

Wonder Woman: Rise Of The Olympian
HC: 9781401225407
TP: 9781401225131

Wonder Woman: Warkiller
TP: 9781401227791

Wonder Woman: Contagion
TP: 9781401229207

Sadly out of print but well worth tracking down, Gail Simone was the longest-running female writer to handle the monthly Wonder Woman book as well as one of the most critically acclaimed authors to ever handle The Amazing Amazon. Simone’s run explored both the implications of the Amazon culture and the glory of the DC Comics Universe. A prime example of this is Diana winning the service of a small army of talking gorillas as a result of an honor duel. Silly at times, but absolutely wonderful.

Wonder Woman: Her Greatest Battles
ISBN: 9781401268978

Included only for the sake of completeness, this anthology volume collects a sampling of stories from many of the other collections described in this article. Good if your budget prevents you from acquiring everything on this list. Otherwise, skip it.

Wonder Woman: The New 52

Wonder Woman: Vol. 1 – Blood
HC: 9781401235635
TP: 9781401235628

Wonder Woman: Vol. 2 – Guts
HC: 9781401238094
TP: 9781401238100

Wonder Woman: Vol. 3 – Iron
HC: 9781401242619
TP: 9781401246075

Wonder Woman: Vol. 4 – War
HC: 9781401246082
TP: 9781401249540

Wonder Woman: Vol. 5 – Flesh
HC: 9781401250973
TP: 9781401253493

Wonder Woman: Vol. 6 – Bones
HC: 9781401253509
TP: 9781401257750

Wonder Woman: Vol. 7 – War Torn
HC: 9781401256791
TP: 9781401261634

Wonder Woman: Vol. 8 – A Twist Of Faith
HC: 9781401261641
TP: 9781401265830

Wonder Woman: Vol. 9 – Resurrection
HC: 9781401265847
TP: 9781401268053

Librarians may be tempted to pick up this series because it is critically acclaimed and easily accessible. Don’t. While some people who don’t normally read Wonder Woman found this series to be a breath of fresh air, long-time fans were rightly horrified by The New 52 Wonder Woman series. [You can check out our review of the first volume – ed.]

Why? Well, ignoring the new conceit that Diana’s powers come from her being a bastard daughter of Zeus and that her skill as a warrior came from her receiving private lessons from Ares, there’s the fact that the Amazon society of the New 52 universe consists of a bunch of barbarian serial rapists who sell their sons into slavery.

While this may be more accurate to the depiction of Amazons in Greek mythology, it flies in the face of everything the Amazon culture, as envisioned by Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston, is meant to stand for, to say nothing of skirting the upper edges of a “T for Teen” rating. The later volumes written by Meredith Finch [Here’s our review of her first volume – ed.] are not any better, with many Wonder Woman fans considering the idea of Wonder Woman taking Ares’ place as God of War as antithetical to the character’s base concept.

Wonder Woman: Earth One, vol. 1
HC: 9781401229788
TP: 9781401268633

This book is…complicated, to put it politely and mildly. While it’s a fantastic intellectual exercise for comic geeks, it falls flat as a story that can be enjoyed by any but the most devout of comic history buffs.

Writer Grant Morrison claims to have researched classic feminist theory in an effort to capture the feel of the original Marston comics, but he succeeds only in capturing just how weird Golden Age Wonder Woman could be. While his take on Amazon culture does include openly gay relationships (and indeed is described as a paradise island of science-fiction lesbians with a side of bondage) his updated version of Diana’s sidekick, Etta Candy, gets fat-shamed by the Amazons and the bondage elements of Amazon society seem wholly gratuitous.

Still, Morrison does have some good ideas here even if there’s not much of a plot pushing them forward. One of the better innovations is Steve Trevor being black, which leads to a great scene of his talking with Hippolyta about how his ancestors were enslaved by men in power as well.

Wonder Woman and The Justice League of America
Vol. 1: 9781401268343
Vol. 2: 9781401274009 (October, 2017)

This is another one we’re going to have to warn you away from. While the 1990s era Justice League stories contained in this volume aren’t terrible, they aren’t notable and Diana is but one character of a larger ensemble. The first printing of volume one also featured a printing error with multiple out-of-order pages. If you already have it in your collection it’s worth double checking which version you have, as DC are issuing replacement copies with a corrected page order.

Wonder Woman by Mike Deodato
ISBN: 9781401261061

Reprinting all of the Wonder Woman comics drawn by fan-favorite artist Mike Deodato, this volume is mostly of interest to art fans as a study in contrast. The storyby William Messner-Loebshas Diana losing her position to the more aggressive Artemis, after Queen Hippolyta demands a new contest to allow all the Amazons a chance.

While this is the series that put Deodato on the map back in the 1990s, the work that brought him critical acclaim came years later after he adopted a more photo-realistic style while working on The Incredible Hulk with Bruce Jones. Before that, Deodato’s work resembled that of Jim Lee, with elongated bodies and exaggerated facial expressions. While Deodato isn’t a bad artist at this early stage, he had an unfortunate tendency to indulge in fan-service, which undercuts Messner-Loebs’ story. All the Amazon warriors are depicted wearing thongs or toga-style dresses that somehow ride-up to leave their rear ends completely exposed! And the less said about Diana’s “costume” (a black leather strapless bra with matching jacket and black spandex shorts!) after her position as Wonder Woman is usurped, the better.

Wonder Woman by John Byrne
Vol. 1: 9781401270841 (June, 2017)

Picking up where Mike Deodato’s run on Wonder Woman ended, the writer/artist who redefined Superman in 1986’s The Man of Steel took his turn in redeveloping Wonder Woman. Opinion is divided on Byrne as a creator, but his run on Wonder Womanwhile not as beloved as Greg Rucka’sis notable for having introduced the second Wonder Girl, Cassandra Sandsmark.

 

 

 

Wonder Woman: Who Is Wonder Woman?
ISBN: 9781401272333

This is another one to avoid at all cost. While you might be tempted to give it a try based on the pedigree of Sex and the City writer Allan Heinberg being involved, the only thing this series was notable for as a monthly comic was being continually late and leading into the infamously awful Amazons Attack mini-series.

Anime Club Picks: Crunchyroll

UPDATED AUGUST 2016 – Librarians across the country run Japanese manga and anime clubs of all types, most frequently appealing to middle school and high school age fans.  In recent years it’s been trickier to navigate getting the appropriate licenses to show anime, but now the streaming site Crunchyroll has stepped up and offered access to their many streaming series to libraries.

Any club, library, or convention can sign up via Crunchyroll’s outreach service to gain a free subscription to their streaming service.  To sign up, you must agree to have at least two anime screenings during each quarter, or 90-day period, and fill out a feedback form after each screening.  As you sign up, Crunchyroll will ask a few questions — age range of viewers, shows you’re keen to screen, and whether you’re a member of YALSA, the library’s mailing address — and then you’re set to go.

The best thing about Crunchyroll is that they have a wide range of shows, both brand new and older, and if you sign up through their library service, there are no ads.

A few pointers for using Crunchyroll with your club:

  1. There are no age ratings on Crunchyroll, so think through which shows you’ll screen ahead of time.  If possible, pre-screen titles to be sure they fit with your club and community standards.  Teen members may not have quite the same radar as librarians for what’s appropriate, so initially it’s a good idea to take a look at series yourself.
  2. The videos are all streaming, so be sure you have either a solid wireless connection or a wired connection that will allow the videos to stream without interruption.  It’s incredibly convenient to have streaming choices, but it’s also terribly frustrating if your connection delays or disrupts play.
  3. The majority of videos on Crunchyroll are subtitled, not dubbed.  In my library’s club at the Public Library of Brookline, watching the titles with Japanese dialog and English subtitles is part of the point of the club experience.  However, if you have any members in your club who devotees of dubbed anime, they will be out of luck.

To help all of you librarians and clubs out there get to know the options offered, we’ve curated a list of the best Crunchyroll titles available for club screenings.  With this 2016 update, we’ve also included a number of older teen/adult titles for those of you running adult anime clubs or clubs at universities, so make sure you check those age recommendations.

Read on and enjoy!

This list of over fifty recommended titles was originally compiled and updated this year by our anime enthusiasts on staff: Jenny, Jessikah, Marissa, Megan, Michelle, Thomas, and Allen.  If you have any questions, ask ’em in the comments!

The Best of Crunchyroll

5CentimetersPerSecond5 Centimeters per Second

Distributor/Producer: CoMixWave Films
Release Year: 2007
Elevator Pitch: Two people who’ve gradually lost touch with one another look back at their once-close childhood relationship and wonder about what might have been.  This early Makoto Shinkai film is as quiet, beautiful, and melancholic as we’ve come to expect from anything he creates.  His fascination with animating the play of light is almost reason enough to watch his films.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of bittersweet romance and of films more focused on emotion and atmosphere than plot.  The slower pacing and adult-looking-back perspective will probably appeal most to older teen and adult viewers.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: There’s not much of concern to note.
Direct link: 5 Centimeters Per Second


AnoNatsudeMatteruAno Natsu de Matteru

Distributor/Producer: Showgate (Sentai)
Release Year: 2012
Elevator Pitch: This series centers on a small-town teen witness to a strange explosion he later remembers nothing about.  He gets together with his friends over the summer in order to make a movie about aliens, not immediately realizing that the cute new upperclassman who has conveniently moved in with him for the interim may actually be an alien herself.  Pretty animation, unique characters, and surprising twists on a seemingly familiar premise make this funny, romantic, sometimes dramatic series worth a watch.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of other teen-boy-meets-alien?-girl stories, only with a little more emotional drama and a little less action (although there’s plenty of the latter bookending the show).
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: Potential alien Takatsuki is clearly drawn with fan service in mind and doesn’t always go around the house in full attire.
Direct link: Ano Natsu de Matteru (Waiting in the Summer)


ArakawaUndertheBridgeArakawa Under the Bridge

Distributor/Producer: NIS America
Release Year: 2010 / 2010
Elevator Pitch: When debt-averse corporate heir Ko loses his pants and falls off a bridge, he’s rescued by Nino, a beautiful but spacey young woman who lives beneath the bridge, claims to be from Venus, and asks him to pay her back by “experiencing love” with her.  Drawn into her community of riverside eccentrics–including a kappa-costumed chief, a star-masked guitarist, a well-armed nun in drag, and many, many others–Ko doesn’t realize just how well he fits in with the variously odd, ill, and wounded individuals who’ve found a home and acceptance on the riverbank.  Unpredictable, hysterical, and heart-squeezing.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of stories about quasi families, flawed point-of-view characters, and all around nuttiness.  The off-the-wall humor and personalities have a lot in common with Gintama, though perhaps a little more refined.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: The humor can be a little adult in nature and there are occasionally-bared bottoms, but nothing graphic or gratuitous and no sex (despite what you might think from the premise).  Some of the characters may have more colorful vocabularies than others and there’s a good deal of humor-based violence with characters beating or shooting the tar out of one another with no lasting damage.
Direct link: Arakawa Under the Bridge


BeyondtheBoundaryBeyond the Boundary

Distributor/Producer: TBS (Sentai)
Release Year: 2013
Elevator Pitch: Akihito, an easygoing boy of mixed human and youmu (a type of dangerous supernatural being) parentage, finds his immortality being tested daily by shy new student Kuriyama.  Having someone try to kill you every day gets tiresome. He eventually persuades her to practice her youmu hunting skills on actual threats, but personal and communal secrets and corruption could undermine their fragile friendship and put everyone around them in danger.  This series has some engaging drama and humor, but the attractive visuals and especially the fluidly animated action scenes are the clear highlight and make the less carefully tended narrative nevertheless worth your time.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of moe heroines, half-monster heroes, and emotional fantasy action.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: Akihito’s friend’s year-older brother has an openly acknowledged sister complex played for laughs.
Direct link: Beyond the Boundary


BlueExorcistBlue Exorcist

Distributor/Producer: Aniplex
Release Year: 2011
Elevator Pitch: Learning that he’s literally the son of Satan understandably throws teenage Rin for a loop. Still, the love and support of family and friends and his faith in his own better nature help him to accept himself, build lasting bonds, and fight the forces of darkness that threaten their world.  To do that, he enrolls in a mysterious school for exorcists where he learns how to deal with other people as well as how to control his powers so he can someday take on his old man.  Rin’s a fun, surprisingly angst-free lead in this supernatural action series.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of teamwork stories, supernatural battles, and cheerful half-demon heroes who aren’t into brooding.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: A female teacher looks like a Gurren Lagann‘s Yoko wanna-be, only with less class and more ill-fitting attire and for no discernible reason other than to be tacky eye-candy.  Milder fan service crops up with a few other female characters. With all the demon fighting / exorcising, there’s a fair amount of fantasy violence.  Though it’s not gratuitous, it can be bloody, particularly with the emotionally intense yet narrative-essential death of a loved one early on in the series.
Direct link: Blue Exorcist


ChihayafuruChihayafuru

Distributor/Producer: NTV
Release Year: 2011 / 2013
Elevator Pitch: When shy boy Arata introduces kind tomboy Chihaya to the sport of karuta (a Memory-like card game in which opponents race to retrieve the card representing the second half of a recited classical poem), a fire is lit inside the middle-schooler and her life changes forever.  Even after Arata moves away, Chihaya lives and breathes karuta, forming a high school team along with her best friend and unnoticed admirer Taichi.  Together they take on the most powerful players in the country, including the reigning Queen.  Watching karuta-obsessed Chihaya strive for her team and herself, and watching those who love her try to slowly work their way into her clueless heart while doing the same, is a joy.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of sports series, poetry, classical literature, karuta (obviously), romance, and friendship tales.  If you enjoyed Hikaru no Go but want more giggles, emotion, and character development (and more action, as karuta combines both intellectual and physical prowess), this is for you.
Suitable for middle school? No.
Content notes: No content issues to speak of.
Direct link: Chihayafuru


ChisSweetHome2Chi’s Sweet Home: Chi’s New Address

Distributor/Producer: TV Tokyo
Release Year: 2009
Elevator Pitch: In this sequel series to Chi’s Sweet Home, kitten Chi’s human family moves to a new home and she has to adjust.  Short episodes follow her as she gets to know her new environment and neighbors and settles in.
Suggested Age Range: Kids
Appeals to: Cat lovers and those with a weakness for all things cute, fuzzy, and adorable.
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: There’s not much to worry about with this one beyond the potential for cuteness overload, although that may change as Chi grows up.
Direct link: Chi’s Sweet Home: Chi’s New Address

 

 


DurararaDurarara!!

Distributor/Producer: Aniplex
Release Year: 2010
Elevator Pitch: Mikado moves from the quiet suburbs to Tokyo’s frenetic Ikebukuro neighborhood to attend high school with his childhood friend, Kida.  One by one, Kida introduces Mikado to the colorful locals but warns him away from the more dangerous elements.  Unfortunately–or fortunately?–he can’t seem to avoid running into the latter, and soon the whole neighborhood is caught up in a complicated web of personal and supernatural secrets, underworld schemes, and corporate conspiracies.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of Baccano!‘s jumbled chronology, large and kooky cast, and smart, edgy, gleeful writing.  Urban legend and folklore fans, social media addicts, and otaku will get a kick out of this, as well.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: Though this series isn’t nearly as darkly violent as Baccano!, gang warfare can get pretty rough, as can a mysterious slasher roaming the alleys.  Vending machines and lamp posts are used as weapons with surprising frequency (hee!).  A pair of issue-ridden siblings have a disturbingly codependent relationship.  A creepy teacher has his eye on a busty student.  And a prominent female character has a non-graphic shower scene.
Direct link: Durarara!!


EccentricFamilyThe Eccentric Family

Distributor/Producer: Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation (YTV) (NIS America)
Release Year: 2013
Elevator Pitch: Modern-day Kyoto finds humans, tengu, and tanuki sharing the same streets, but tensions are on the rise since the tragic death of the tanuki patriarch several years ago.  Now his widow and four sons struggle to look after one another as politics, a bitter feud, and the dreaded Friday Fellows hotpot threaten far more than just the stability of their community.  Shape-shifting, phantom trains, and sake-fueled flying teahouses are just a few of the selling points for this funny, dramatic, and surprisingly moving series about the bonds of family.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of folklore, tanuki tales, family stories, and edgy, unpredictable weirdness and wonder.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes:  Yasaburo happily shape-shifts as a human girl for kicks while his mother regularly poses as a flamboyant human prince.  Also, an aging tengu flirts with his human protégé, who is the focus of most of the series’ fan service–she’s attractive, knows it, and uses it–but it fits her and isn’t gratuitous.  The fate of the boys’ father–and third son Yasaburo’s conflicted emotions regarding some of those responsible–takes the series into what might be uncomfortable territory for some viewers while simultaneously defining the show’s life-embracing themes.
Direct link: The Eccentric Family


Eyeshield21Eyeshield 21

Distributor/Producer: Sentai Filmworks
Release Year: 2005-2008
Elevator Pitch: A lowly gopher for school bullies turns out to have the agility and dodging skills needed to elevate his school’s football team into a competitive force. Now, to get the rest of the team up to speed…
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of team sports, slapstick, shonen-style progression of skills
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: There is a running gag of one of the tougher players on the team whipping out an uzi and opening fire to motivate everyone else into action or agreeing with him. In the context of the show’s tone and humor it’s just a gag, but in the moment it’s undeniably controversial.

Direct link: Eyeshield 21

 


FolktalesFromJapanFolktales from Japan

Distributor/Producer: TV Tokyo
Release Year: 2012
Elevator Pitch: Three short tales per episode relate common Japanese stories from folklore, mythology, and history.  Some are cultural foundations, many are lessons on how to behave, and some are just plain fun.  Japan-ophiles will happily recognize the originals of many popularly referenced figures like Momotaro (the Peach Boy), Princess Kaguya (she of the bamboo stalk), the Crane Wife, and many, many others.  The animation style switches around from tale to tale–cartoony for some, delicately artsy for others–and all the voices are skillfully performed by the same two mature actors.
Suggested Age Range: Younger Teen
Appeals to: Fans of folklore and Japanese culture or anyone who wants to understand more jokes and allusions in their manga and anime without having to rely on an editor remembering to include translation notes.
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: This is marketed to younger kids in Japan.  A few of the stories can be pretty somber and there’s occasional simplistic violence.  But there’s also the likes of a tale revolving around a young wife who passes extremely forcible gas, so there ya go.
Direct link: Folktales from Japan


Free!Free! Iwatobi Swim Club

Distributor/Producer: ABC Asahi
Release Year: 2013
Elevator Pitch: An all-boys swim team grows up and loses a founding member. The rest try to train up a new recruit and compete in a championship despite the return of their former friend as an opponent.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Gentle sense of humor, tales of friendship
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: This series is often billed as “fan service for girls” due to the cast of fit young men in swimming speedos. The camera’s gaze does not get pervy, but be aware the boys on this show will be in various stages of undress.
Direct link: Free! Iwatobi Swim Club

 

 


GankutsuouGankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Distributor/Producer: GONZO (FUNimation, Geneon)
Release Year: 2004
Elevator Pitch: Years after being betrayed by a friend and falsely imprisoned in an isolated space prison, Edmond Dantes returns to his former Parisian home in the guise of a fabulously wealthy and charming count from orbiting Luna in order to wreak terrible revenge on those responsible for his miseries.  But what will he do when innocents threaten to become collateral damage in his initially righteous vendetta?  Dumas’s classic gets a visually stunning, futuristic update, but the darkly fascinating conflict at its core remains the same.
Suggested Age Range: Adult
Appeals to: Lovers of the source material, slowly building psychological plots, complex revenge stories, science fiction, and groundbreaking visuals.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: The psychological drama can be intense, with sex and violence more than mere suggestion.
Direct link: Gankutsuou


GargantiaGargantia on the Verduous Planet

Distributor/Producer: Production I.G.
Release Year: 2013
Elevator Pitch: Endless intergalactic war is all Ledo knows until he finds himself cast away on a strange planet covered in water.  Now, Chamber the A.I. in his mecha suit is the only link to Ledo’s old life, and his only method of communicating with the strange inhabitants of a floating city known as Gargantia.  Can Ledo adapt to a quiet life on the high seas or will the echos of the war he left behind threaten his new found peace?
Suggested Age Range: Teen.

Appeals to: Fans of the Gundam series, Martian Successor Nadesico, Full Metal Panic, and even Last Exile should enjoy this.
Suitable for middle school? Yes.
Content notes: There is a bit of fan service in the way of busty female characters and an obligatory swimsuit episode.  The series also takes a rather dark turn in later episodes.
Direct link: Gargantia on the Verduous Planet


GintamaGintama

Distributor/Producer: TV Tokyo (Sentai for Gintama)
Release Year: 2006-2010 / 2012
Elevator Pitch: Instead of Admiral Perry and his “Black Ships,” aliens have forced 19th-century Japan to open its doors to the outside world(s).  A few years later, former rebel samurai and diabetic sugar-fiend Gintoki partners up with Shinpachi (a serious young swordsman and pop idol fan club member)

and Kagura (an alien girl with crazy strength and an appetite to match Gin’s) to run an odd-jobs business.  As they take on everything from lost cats to terrorist plots, the trio bicker amongst themselves, fail to pay the rent, get into trouble with / aid the Shinsengumi (Kyoto’s historical police force).  On top of that, they battle gang bosses, adopt giant alien dogs, befriend the unemployed, and generally laze around, save the day, and leave almost as many messes as they clean up.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of Shonen Jump (the magazine’s other series are often fodder for jokes), alternate histories, sci-fi, the Shinsengumi, samurai action, quasi-family stories, and utter ridiculousness that doesn’t forget that viewers have hearts as well as funny bones.  Viewers who enjoyed Samurai Champloo‘s mix of Edo era and Hip Hop culture and who appreciated the wackiness of its sillier episodes, might enjoy the goofiness and mash-up elements here, too.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: The often-juvenile, fourth-wall-breaking humor can be pretty crass and there’s a lot of focus on bodily functions (though thankfully pixelation saves the viewer’s eyes from anything too scarring).  Swords and guns and other weapons get put to good use, with much of the violence fueling the humor and some the drama.  The sub translators do a great job of explaining as many of the non-obvious Japanese pop cultural references as they can (and there are oodles of fun references!), so there can be a lot of text flashing by on the screen.
Direct link: Gintama


GirlsundPanzerGirls und Panzer

Distributor/Producer: Sentai Filmworks
Release Year: 2012
Elevator Pitch: An all-girls high school tank team, located on a massive battleship, competes against other schools’ tank teams for personal fulfillment and school glory.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: High school comedy+drama fans, military hardware aficionados
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: The tanks used by the schools enact a war-games level of violence (rubber bullets, no blood) that nonetheless requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief while accepting that the characters are kind of in danger no matter what.

Direct link: Girls und Panzer

 


GurrenLagann

Gurren Lagann

Distributor/Producer: Aniplex
Release Year: 2007
Elevator Pitch: Simon lives in a subterranean society, drilling holes whenever he can. He unearths the drill-shaped key to a giant robot, setting off a course of events that will lead to discovering the truth about the surface world and beyond.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Mecha/Action fanatics, big team efforts, strength gained from one’s burning passion for life
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: Jiggle-related fan service and leering male gaze.
Direct link: Gurren Lagann

 

 


HaikyuHaikyu

Distributor/Producer: Production I.G.
Release Year: 2014/2015
Elevator Pitch: Haikyu follows volleyball newcomer Shoyo Hinata and his team Karasano’s quest to make it to the high school championships.  They have a long way to go though, and clashing teammates and their powerful opponents are not going to make it easy!  Full of action, great, character dynamics, and comedy, Haikyu moves along at a steady pace that leaves viewers wanting more; one particular strength of Haikyu is that the show’s tension revolves primarily around a positive spirit of competition and characters’ drive to improve.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Sports story fans and athletes; anyone who enjoys positive, light-hearted shows
Suitable for middle school?  Yes
Content notes:  Some of the adult characters are seen drinking, and one adult character smokes.  One of the female characters is regularly put on a pedestal, although images of her do not quite cross the line into fan service.

Direct link: Haikyu


HanasanaIroha

Hanasaku Iroha

Distributor/Producer: Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation (YTV) (NIS America)
Release Year: 2011
Elevator Pitch: Teen Ohana gets shipped off by her single mom to live with her strict grandmother who runs a popular inn in a resort town.  As she struggles to fit in and get to know her prickly guardian, Ohana learns the value or hard work, comes to better understand her flighty mother and other family members, and starts to think about what she wants for her own future.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of coming-of-age stories and family dramas.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: The fan service is mostly mild, although one of the guests is a writer of steamy novels and tries to use the young female staff as models for his work.
Direct link: Hanasaku Iroha


HorrorNewsHorror News

Distributor/Producer: Next Media Animation
Release Year: 2014
Elevator Pitch: First-year middle schooler Rei encounters an odd newspaper from tomorrow that tells of his teacher dying in a car accident. The next day, he witnesses that very accident, and dreads ever seeing that newspaper again. That midnight, and every midnight following, he is forced to bear witness to new editions of Horror News.
Suggested Age Range: Younger Teen, Teen
Appeals to: Fans of Death Note or the stylings of Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
Suitable for middle school? Maybe!
Content notes: While the series is rooted in horror and death, the episodes are short and the premise is undeniably silly.

Direct link: Horror News


HouseofFiveLeaves

House of Five Leaves

Distributor/Producer: NIS America
Release Year: 2010
Elevator Pitch: Awkward ronin Masa hires himself out as a bodyguard only to learn that the man he’s protecting is actually part of a kidnapping ring called The Five Leaves.  The more Masa gets to know enigmatic Yaichi and his atypical cohorts, the more he’s drawn into their tightly knit group and the more he sympathizes with their complicated motives.  As the past catches up with them, Masa’s selfless heart may be just as important as his skillful blade in protecting his new comrades from their own demons.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of samurai stories, slowly unraveled mysteries, quasi family stories, and Natsume Ono’s haunted-eyed character art.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: Yaichi’s past is not a happy one and a late flashback leaves little doubt as to the sad and bloody violence off-screen.
Direct link: House of Five Leaves


KidsontheSlopeKids On The Slope

Distributor/Producer: Sentai Filmworks
Release Year: 2012
Elevator Pitch: In 1966, an honor roll student new to town and a “bad boy” classmate become friends who bond over music. Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack uses classic jazz standards, and the series builds to a fusion of songs in a masterful performance.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Musicians, romantics
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: We recommend this for “Older Teen” not because of anything inappropriate, but because the mood and pace of the show reward a mature viewing, is all. We predict librarians who watch along with their teens will get just as sucked into this period drama.

Direct link: Kids on the Slope


KurokosBasketballKuroko’s Basketball

Distributor/Producer: ADK (Bandai)
Release Year: 2012 / 2013
Elevator Pitch: Kuroko—indispensable yet invisible member of The Generation of Miracles, the core players of Japan’s greatest middle school basketball team—decides to keep playing, and growing, in high school despite the fact that his former teammates have all scattered to different schools.  Now his goal is to bond with his new teammates and show the old ones what can be accomplished when they don’t just focus on individual gain.  Fast, over-the-top basketball action, friendship, and teamwork take center stage.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of other fun and involving sports series like Eyeshield 21 and Slam Dunk!.  As with Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, due to the friends-and-rivals themes and the cast of attractive young fellows, yaoi fans seem to get as much (non-canon) fun out of the show as the sports lovers do the basketball.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: The sub translators occasionally go with the mildly stronger four-letter alternatives when the boys are under pressure, but not often enough to ruffle too many feathers.  The doting father of the boys’ coach, a female classmate, is somewhat creepily obsessed with his daughter, but thankfully his role is minimal.  The requisite hot springs episode has veiled nudity from both sexes, but everything’s played for laughs and there’s no sexual content.
Direct link: Kuroko’s Basketball


LittleWitchAcademiaLittle Witch Academia

Distributor/Producer:  Trigger
Release Year:  2013
Elevator Pitch: Hoping to become just like her idol, a witch named Shiny Chariot, Akko enrolls in Luna Nova Academy.  Sadly, Akko has little magical talent, and her love for Chariot (who is considered to be hokey by “real” witches) makes her a bit of an outcast.  When Diana Cavendish, the most popular girl in school accidentally unleashes a dangerous magic on Luna Nova, only Akko can save the academy, by using Shiny Chariot’s magic.
Suggested Age Range: Younger Teen
Appeals to: Fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service could find much to like in this short.  A sequel is currently in production.
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: There is little to worry about when it comes to content.
Direct link: Little Witch Academia


LovelyMuuuuucoLovely Muuuuuuuco!

Distributor/Producer: Doga Kobo
Release Year: 2015-Present
Elevator Pitch: Look at this Akita! Ahhhh! He and his owner live in the mountains, where Akita meets all sorts of people and has cute reactions to everything.
Suggested Age Range: Younger Teen
Appeals to: Comedy, Slice of life, Dog people who feel cheated by Chi’s Sweet Home
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: Too cute, proceed with caution

Direct link: Lovely Muuuuuuuco!

 

 


MonthlyNozakikunMonthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Distributor/Producer:  Media Factory
Release Year:  2014
Elevator Pitch:  Chiyo Sakura finally gets the guts to speak to her crush, Umetaro Nozaki.  However, he mistakes her attempt to talk as a request for his autograph (he is a manga-ka of a shojo manga).  He has his eye on Chiyo for her art skills to assist him with his manga, so she decides to work with him and attempts to let him know her feelings.  Hilarity ensues as the series progresses and we truly see how oblivious the hardworking Nozaki-kun is.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Those who enjoy romance in a slice-of-life setting.
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: There is some mild language and verbal innuendo.

MrOsomatsuMr. Osomatsu

Distributor/Producer: Pierrot (studio)
Release Year: 2015-present
Elevator Pitch: Sextuplet brothers, formerly featured in a 1960s anime, try to get along in the modern world. Themed episodes and gags abound, mixing styles of humor new and old. The only predictable thing about this show is its unpredictability.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen, Adult
Appeals to: People in need of a South Park fix
Suitable for middle school? NO
Content notes: This series has a way of swerving from a silly pun or visual gag to blurred nudity and outright dirty jokes. You’d better review each episode in advance… but the stuff you do show will be hilarious.
Direct link: Mr. Osomatsu

 


MushishiMushi-Shi

Distributor/Producer: Aniplex
Release Year: 2014 / 2014
Elevator Pitch: Invisible to most, mushi are elemental life forms of seemingly infinite variety that occasionally cross paths with humans.  When these interactions lead to problems, Ginko remedies them.  Folklore, natural beauty, and deftly created atmosphere make this show the perfect antidote to life’s often frenetic pace. Please note: Crunchyroll has the license for the OVA (original video animation) release and the sequel series, not the original Mushi-shi.  The first series is available on DVD through Funimation and streaming at their site.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of folklore and quietly absorbing supernatural tales.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: The usually quiet tenor of the show (action scenes are rare but very effective) won’t suit all viewers.  Some of the results of human-mushi interaction can be quite dark and somber, but not in the way of graphic horror.
Direct link: Mushi-shi


MyLoveStoryMy Love Story!!

Distributor/Producer: Sentai Filmworks
Release Year: 2015
Elevator Pitch: Takeo, a hulking beast of a teenager with a heart of gold, saves a girl on a train, Rinko, from a pervert. He is used to being overlooked by girls in favor of his pretty-boy pal Makoto, but Rinko only has eyes for Takeo. Watching Takeo’s exagerrated reactions to the simple joys of young love is at turns hilarious and heartwarming.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Romantics, people with strong opinions about the term “nice guy,” people who enjoy seeing a sweethearted romance turn out well
Suitable for middle school? Yes

Direct link: My Love Story!!

 


JokerMysterious Joker

Distribution/Producer: Shin-Ei Animation
Year: 2014
Elevator Pitch: Phantom thieves can make miracles happen, and Joker is the ultimate thief. Unlike burglars, phantom thieves use cool gadgets and always give advance notice for what treasures they plan to steal.
Suggested Age Range: Children
Appeals to: Recommend to children and tweens who like silly humor, colorful artwork, and plot-driven adventure stories.
Suitable for Middle School?: Yes
Content Notes: Suitable for all ages
Direct Link: Mysterious Joker

 

 


MyLittleMonsterMy Little Monster

Distributor/Producer: ADK (Aniplex, TV Tokyo)
Release Year: 2012
Elevator Pitch: A friendless, serious girl focused on her studies unintentionally acquires an unpredictable, high-energy, semi-delinquent boyfriend with no social skills, significant emotional baggage, and a big heart.  Will sensible Mitty be able to calm Haru’s wild nature?  Will sweet Haru be able to soften Mitty’s cold one?
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of silly romantic school comedies plus emotional conflict.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: Haru throws rape out as a casual verbal threat early on, and while it’s likely he has little idea what he’s saying, it’s still disturbing.  He also isn’t very careful when he gets excited or angry and accidentally bloodies Mitty’s nose on more than one occasion, though this is more clearly part of his character development and one hopes a second season will see him be more conscious and thoughtful of those around him.
Direct link: My Little Monster


NagiAsaNagi no Asukara

Distributor/Producer: Showgate (NIS America)
Release Year: 2013
Elevator Pitch: Four middle-schoolers from an underwater village attend school on the surface and struggle to fit in without losing their heritage or their hearts.  Soon, however, the culture clash and the complicated emotional webs tying the kids from both worlds to one another take a back seat to larger concerns that could affect all life above and below the surface.  The atmosphere in this beautifully animated and carefully sound-edited show is almost a character unto itself including a sunlit seaside village of peeling aquamarine paint, rusting boats, and abandoned bridge supports leading nowhere.  The impressively depicted emotional development of the characters is just that much more reason to watch it.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of love polygons, “the feels,” and subtle fantasy world-building that leaves viewers increasingly goosebump-y and wondering what’s really happening in the bigger picture.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: One supernatural adult character is known to appreciate porn.  There are a few instances of very mild fan service, as with obscured nudity in relevant non-sexual situations or when one of the girls is accidentally walked-in on while changing, but nothing offensive.
Direct link: Nagi no Asukara (Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea)


NatsumeNatsume Yujin-cho

Distributor/Producer: TV Tokyo / ADK (NIS America)
Release Year: 2008-2011 / 2012
Elevator Pitch: Natsume has always been able to see yokai (supernatural beings that share the world with humans), but his misunderstood behavior has only gotten him shuffled from one family to another.  Now in high school and finally settled with kind relatives, he discovers his deceased grandmother’s secret book filled with the names of yokai she bested.  Since the potentially powerful book makes him vulnerable to greedy yokai, Natsume strikes a bargain with a strong yokai named Madara (who often takes the form of a tubby calico-ish cat, earning him the nickname Nyanko-sensei.) Madara protects him–and crankily complains–as Natsume returns names to their owners, makes friends, and learns to trust others and himself.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of folklore, quiet supernatural tales with a little action and a lot of emotion, and kitty lovers.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: There’s no fan service, but some of the less pleasant yokai (and a few humans) Natsume encounters can be pretty unsettling and violent, though not usually graphically so.  Also, Nyanko-sensei is a hard-drinking yokai kitty.
Direct link: Natsume Yujin-cho (Natsume’s Book of Friends)


ParasyteParasyte -the maxim-

Distributor/Producer: Sentai Filmworks
Release Year: 2014-2015
Elevator Pitch: Earth is being invaded by tiny beings that bore into the skin and control their hosts. Collectively, these parasites have agreed to covertly breach humanity’s halls of power and feast on the creatures of Earth. Some people were able to stop their parasites partway up their bodies and formed symbiotic relationships instead, gaining powers of shapeshifting and advanced phsyique. With civilization in the crosshairs of a devoted alien species, can the symbiotes broker a peace?

Suggested Age Range: Older Teen, Adult
Appeals to: Horror fans who like a little philosophy with their gore
Suitable for middle school? NO
Content notes: Lots of violence and blood, plus swearing. Explores mature themes of dominant species on Earth, the morality of taking a life, and profound grief at the death of one’s family.
Direct link: Parasyte


PuellaMagiMadokaMajicaPuella Magi Madoka Magica

Distributor/Producer: Aniplex; Madman Entertainment

Release Year: 2011

Elevator Pitch: When middle-schooler Madoka Kaname rescues a mysterious creature Kyubey, he asks her to make a contract with him and become a magical girl to fight witches, spirits who channel negative emotions and make things worse.  Magical girl Homura tries to keep Madoka and her friends from becoming magical girls, but things quickly unravel; unfolding events reveal just what it means to be a magical girl. Cute artwork contrasts with a dark, twisted storyline and creates a compelling series that viewers won’t want to miss.

Suggested Age Range: Older Teen

Appeals to: fans of dark fantasy; fans of stories that play with familiar concepts

Suitable for middle school?  No

Content notes:  As the series progresses, many of the characters’ struggles will be too nuanced for younger audiences.

Direct link: Puella Magi Madoka Magica


RinNeRin-Ne

Distributor/Producer: Sentai Filmworks
Release Year: 2015
Elevator Pitch: Sakura once snuck into the spirit world as a child, and upon her return gained hte ability to see ghosts. Rin-Ne is half-human, half-shinigami who offers to solve people’s ghost problems for a fee via prayer box. Together, these two get to the bottom of a lot of paranormal shenanigans.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of action-comedy afterlife adventures such as Noragami or Bleach, or Rumiko Takahashi’s other madcap series Ranma 1/2 and Inu-Yasha
Suitable for middle school? Yes

Direct link: Rin-Ne


RokkaRokka – Braves of the Six Flowers

Distributor/Producer: Ponycan USA
Release Year: 2015
Elevator Pitch: Six heroes bearing marks of destiny embark on an adventure to defeat a great evil sweeping the land. However, they soon discover seven members among their party and must deduce which of them is a traitor sent to sabotage the group. Their different abilities and backgrounds set them against each other as subtle clues guide the viewer through the mystery.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Swords & sorcery fans, whodunnit hounds
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: Some of the ladies’ costumes are particularly revealing

Direct link: Rokka


rwbyRWBY

Distributor/Producer: Rooster Teeth
Release Year: 2013
Elevator Pitch: The evil Creatures of Grimm are back. Hunters and Huntsmen, humans who can utilize the magical properties of “Dust” to create weapons, are Earth’s only hope. RWBY follows a group of teens in battle school as they train to become successful warriors. Can these new students set aside their differences and complete their training?
Suggested Age Range: Official DVD rating is 13+
Appeals to: This anime-style CGI series is fast-paced (each episode is between 6 and 11 minutes) and chock full of action. The music and graphics are amazing. The series is familiar yet unique, giving it wide appeal.
Suitable for Middle School? Yes
Content Notes: Mild violence during fight scenes
Direct link: RWBY


SamuraiFlamencoSamurai Flamenco

Distributor/Producer: Aniplex
Release Year: 2013-2014
Elevator Pitch: A male model who grew up on sentai superhero shows decides to become a crimefighter by night, Samurai Flamenco, employing common office supplies and a heart full of gumption. He is assisted by a police officer and a trio of copycats dubbed the Flamenco Girls… but what if their hijinks poke the hornet’s nest of true supervillains they never knew were real?
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen, Adult
Appeals to: Fans of Kick-Ass, Power Rangers, and Sailor Moon, and especially combinations in-between
Suitable for middle school? NO
Content notes: The series seems to be a lighthearted take on ordinary people playing superhero, but elevates the stakes and violence in a mid-series pivot that takes the story down some dark roads. Also, the Sailor Moon analogs, the Flamenco Girls, have a fixation on defeating men by crushing their balls.
Direct link: Samurai Flamenco


SchoolLiveSchool Live!

Distribution/Producer: Madman Entertainment
Year: 2015
Elevator Pitch: A group of high school girls create the School Living Club after a zombie attack that originates in their school destroys everything.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeal to: Recommend to those who like slice-of-life stories with more of a focus on characterization. The twists and turns, as well as the psychological aspect of dealing with trauma set against the backdrop of a generally humorous series with a cute animation style is reminiscent of Madoka Magica.
Suitable for Middle School?: No
Content Notes: There is a scene where they are trying on bikinis at the mall, as well as a scene where one of the girls is in the shower (nothing explicit is shown, however) . There’s occasional violence against the zombies, but it’s not gratuitous and the zombies are only shown as black shadows. An important part of the story is the way the main character deals with the zombie attack which is by blocking out that it ever happens. As the series progresses, it’s revealed that people she talks to and many of the things she sees are not really there but are part of her delusion.
Direct Link: School Live

SpaceBrothersSpace Brothers

Distributor/Producer: Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation (YTV) (Sentai)
Release Year: 2012
Elevator Pitch: Brothers Mutta and Hibito have wanted to be astronauts since they were children, but somewhere along the way Mutta got sidetracked.  After headbutting his boss (and subsequently losing his job) at an auto engineering firm, awkward Mutta has the chance to rediscover his love of space and to catch up to his free-spirited little brother–who’s scheduled to be the first Japanese person on the moon.  The path won’t be easy for either of these wicked-smart goofballs, but their bonds of family and friendship, as well as the dedication and sacrifice of their colleagues and those who’ve come before, will support them through good times and bad as they strive for their dream.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Anyone who thought it would be awesome to be an astronaut when they were kids, who casually follows the doings of NASA or JAXA (Japan’s space agency), who can’t help but click on articles about Mars rovers or newly discovered dwarf planets beyond the Kuiper Belt, or who has grinned like a 10-year old while searching Youtube for Chris Hadfield videos.  If you enjoy stories that focus on character and plot development over wall-to-wall action, this show’s patient pace as it follows the daily ins and outs of training, team building, and near-future space science will be an inspiring, uplifting addition to your day.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: There’s little fan service to speak of here, though the characters are adults in the main story and a joke here and there may be more directed at that audience (such as Mutta’s conversation with the doctor during his physical).  Similarly, adult characters drink and a few smoke.  Some international astronauts are depicted with unfortunate stereotypes, yet they are all portrayed as sympathetic characters whom the leads eventually get to know and respect as individuals.  The latter doesn’t make the former ok, but it softens any unintentional offense.
Direct link: Space Brothers


SwordArtOnlineSword Art Online (SAO)

Distributor/Producer: Madman Entertainment/Aniplex of America
Release Year: 2012
Elevator Pitch: Everyone is excited for the official release of SAO, an advanced Virtual Reality MMORPG, but the excitement quickly dwindles when players realize they are the subject of a horrific human experiment. Players are stuck in the game, with any death resulting in death in real life, until someone can beat the game.
Suggested Age Range: T+
Appeals to: One of the hottest shows of summer 2013, SAO effectively portrays every aspect of an MMORPG world as well as the realistic implications of being stuck inside the game, fighting for your life. Fans of virtual reality anime like .Hack//Sign, Summer Wars, and Accel World will love this; however, the series goes far beyond the virtual reality component, which is why it has been so broadly popular.
Suitable for Middle School? No
Content Notes: Lots of psychological warfare going on here in addition to game violence. Part two has more of that going on than part one.
Direct link: Sword Art Online


TegamiBachiTegami Bachi: Letter Bee

Distributor/Producer: TV Tokyo (Sentai)
Release Year: 2009 / 2010
Elevator Pitch: After his mother is taken away by strange men from the Capital, little Lag Sing follows in his idol Gauche’s footsteps to become a Letter Bee who delivers mail (and therefore heart) to individuals across their artificially lit world.  But once he arrives at Bee HQ, he learns Gauche has mysteriously vanished.  Never losing faith in his friend, Lag is determined to find and help both Gauche and his own missing mother while fulfilling his Bee calling and uncovering the truth behind their world’s artificial sun.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of fantasy, friendship tales, government conspiracy stories, sweet crybaby leads, and the color blue.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: To deliver letters, Bees have to use special heart-firing weapons (mostly guns) to dispatch giant armored insects that can leave human victims as nothing but empty shells.  One of the older female Bees is clearly uniformed for fan service reasons (though everything’s covered, it’s low-slung and plenty tight). Lag’s magical assistant, Niche, is a strange, stubborn little girl-being who doesn’t always agree to wear underpants (though as she and Lag are both such innocents, this is only played for humor).  Another magical being pretty much only bothers with “clothes” (e.g., her prehensile hair wrapped around her important bits like armor) for the sake of others’ sensibilities.
Direct link: Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee


TimeofEveTime of Eve

Distributor/Producer: DIRECTIONS, Inc.
Release Year: 2008
Elevator Pitch: In the near future, androids are the walking appliance servants of convenience. At the Time of Eve cafe, the cardinal rule is that nobody may discriminate between humans and androids. Androids frequent the cafe without any identifying features to distinguish them from humans. Each episode examines a different customer.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Thinkers, thought experiments, examinations of artificial intelligence
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: This series was originally released as six 15-minute episodes, but watching them all in one sitting like a movie works well.
Direct link: Time of Eve

 


TonarinoSekiKunTonari No Seki-kun: The Master of Wasting Time

Distributor/Producer: Sentai Filmworks
Release Year: 2015
Elevator Pitch: You have never seen someone go to the lengths Seki does to entertain himself during class, and neither has his desk neighbor, Rumi. As she watches his inventive games unfold, she can’t help but get absorbed and guess at the rules he invents for himself. Each episode only lasts a few minutes and comes with an extremely catchy ending theme.
Suggested Age Range: Kids, Younger Teen, Teen
Appeals to: Anyone who’s ever been bored in class, fans of Calvinball or Rube Goldberg devices
Suitable for middle school? Yes

Direct link: Tonari No Seki-kun: The Master of Wasting Time


TsuritamaTsuritama

Distributor/Producer: Aniplex
Release Year: 2012
Elevator Pitch: Yuki moves constantly and has trouble making friends. The friends he makes on the island of Enoshima go fishing together, and together with a duck named Tapioca, they must stop an alien invasion. A breezy summer comedy that slowly builds toward world-at-stake adventure.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Breezy summer comedy
Suitable for middle school? Yes
Content notes: There is a girl who wears a bikini for the whole series, but her appearance is not subject to leering
Direct link: Tsuritama

 

 


UtakoiUtakoi

Distributor/Producer: ADK (Aniplex, TV Tokyo)
Release Year: 2012
Elevator Pitch: A handful of Japan’s celebrated 100 Poems, familiar to US viewers as those used in the competitive card game of karuta, are loosely adapted into prettily-animated, interconnected stories depicting their poets and the often bittersweet experiences that may have shaped and inspired their art.  Presenting the tales is witty Teiko, one of the authors and the man responsible for the poems’ compilation in the first place.  To balance the melancholy of many of the backstories, amusingly anachronistic framing devices have Teiko chatting up the viewer, appearing on a talk show gossiping about the poets as if they’re reality TV personalities, and taking on a fellow compilation editor in a YuGiOh-style poetry card battle.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of romance, historical fiction, historical literature, anachronism, and especially lovers of Chihayafuru who want to learn more about the poems and poets at its heart.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: As many of the poems revolve around romantic love, sex comes up both as a topic and as plot, though it’s treated with the same courtly decorum as period manners call for, so there’s nothing much on-screen beyond dramatic kisses, pillow talk, and winking wordplay.
Direct link: Utakoi


WitchCraftWorksWitch Craft Works

Distributor/Producer: Kodansha
Release Year:  2014
Elevator Pitch:  Honoka Takemiya is always crossing paths with the school “princess”, Ayaka Kagari.  What Takamiya is about to find out is that none of this is a mistake.  Kagari is a “Workshop Witch”, who is sworn to protect Takamiya from the “Tower Witches” who would misuse a power hidden inside his body.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of harem anime.
Suitable for middle school?  No.
Content notes: There is some suggestive dialogue, and several busty female characters vying for a piece of Takamiya.  However, the switched gender roles of Takamiya and Kagari set this series apart from other harem series.  Also, note that various historical methods of torture used to expose “witches” are referenced in a comedic sense.  It’s all very silly, but slightly disturbing.
Direct link: Witch Craft Works


YamishibaiYamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories

Distributor/Producer: TV Tokyo
Release Year: 2013
Elevator Pitch: Before manga or anime, there were picture storytellers who’d use paper cutouts and lanterns to draw in and entertain their outdoor audiences.  Here the creators put that style to creepy use in this series of five-minute chillers featuring things like broken seals, haunted hospitals, and department store elevators that only go all the way to the “basement.”  Each starts out quietly enough but builds to a shock that can make you jump even when you know it’s coming.
Suggested Age Range: Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of dark folklore, horror stories, and bite-sized scares that give you the heebie-jeebies (I don’t recommend watching the reverse “banzai!” story right before bedtime–unless, of course, that’s your thing).  The back lit cut-out style animation may appeal to those looking to see something a little different.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: There’s no fan service, overly-strong language, or on-screen violence here, but the sudden reveals may disturb younger viewers.
Direct link: Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories


YonaoftheDawnYona of the Dawn

Distributor/Producer:  Pierrot Co., Ltd.
Release Year:  2014
Elevator Pitch: Yona is the sole heir and pampered daughter of King Il, ruler of the land of Kouka which is said to have been founded by four magical dragons.  Yona is in love with her cousin, Soo-won, but her father does not approve of the match.  During her birthday celebration, her life is turned upside down when Soo-won murders her father and assumes the throne. Yona escapes with her bodyguard and childhood friend Hak with plans to grow stronger to reclaim the throne one day.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fantasy fans and those who enjoy coming of age stories with a bit of romance.
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: There are depictions of combat and several battles sequences.  The violence is not gratuitous, but appropriate for the context of the battles.

Direct link: Yona of the Dawn


YouandMeYou and Me (Kimi to Boku)

Distributor/Producer: TV Tokyo
Release Year: 2011 / 2012
Elevator Pitch: Four childhood friends (an uptight scholar, a gentle nurturer, and a pair of sardonic identical twins) enter high school and go about their days talking and arguing about games, girls, homework, interest clubs, and whatever else comes up as they hang out at home and at school.  They soon befriend an outgoing transfer student and the five boys pick on and rely on each other as they grow up a little, wrestle with first loves, and watch nervously as graduation and change loom ever closer.  Silliness and warmth make this show about adolescence and friendship a happy mix of stress-relieving giggles and thoughtfulness.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeals to: Fans of quiet, slice-of-life stories where not much happens but that’s perfectly ok.  If you enjoyed The Daily Lives of High School Boys and would like to try a similarly-themed show with a little less fan service, a little longer attention span, and more emotional investment, this is for you.  Also, there are random symbolic cats—so, yay!
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: Studious Kaname’s mom is overly attached to him, which amuses his friends to no end but makes the viewer a little uncomfortable.
Direct link: You and Me


YoungBlackjackYoung Black Jack

Distributor/Producer: Sentai Filmworks
Release Year: 2015
Elevator Pitch: Before Hazama was the two-fisted surgeon with the hands of God known as Black Jack, he was a med school student eager to prove himself. From the jungles of the Vietnam War to black-market organ markets, Hazama must use his prodigal surgical skills and knowledge, as well as honed sense of the sanctity of life, to save himself and others.
Suggested Age Range: Teen, Older Teen
Appeals to: Fans of medical dramas and Osamu Tezuka series
Suitable for middle school? No
Content notes: There will be lots of surgeries and bloody messes by the end of this series, but any violence is always used in service of the story. Here and in his classic series, Black Jack often comes across Twilight Zone-esque quandaries where his moral clarity often conquers the short-term emergency but fails to cure the evil in people’s hearts.

Direct link: Young Black Jack


YourLieinAprilYour Lie in April

Distribution/Producer: Madman Entertainment

Year: 2014
Elevator Pitch: As a child, Kousei was a prodigy pianist, but after his terminally ill mother passed away, he was unable to hear the music or see the notes. When he meets Kaori, a brilliant violinist with a vibrant personality, he slowly learns to love music again.
Suggested Age Range: Teen
Appeal to: This is a beautifully animated slice-of-life series about a boy overcoming loss and navigating through the struggles of being known as a protege musician. It will appeal to those who like character-driven coming-of age stories as well as those who love anime with a music theme.
Suitable for Middle School?: No
Content Notes: One of the images in the Opening has Kousei and Kaori twirling around to music without clothes on. In the first episode, Kousei is recording Kaori playing her violin. A big gust of wind blows her skirt and she thinks he’s videotaping her so she hits him while accusing him of ruining her for marriage. There are a few scenes Kousei remembers from his childhood when his mother, knowing she would die soon and never play piano again, physically and mentally abuses Kousei.
Direct link: Your Lie in April

Must Have: Deadpool

Today’s graphic literature fans are enjoying a golden age of television and movies undreamed of. Whether you’re a fan of superheroics, spy-thrillers, or horror, there’s something for virtually everyone. But what happens when someone goes looking for the books that inspired their favorite shows? More often than not they get confused,.

It’s fairly simple to track down The Walking Dead books. iZombie and Preacher (soon to be a series on AMC) have been collected into neat little volumes. Even the various volumes of Hellblazer aren’t too difficult to navigate for those proud Constantine fans still hoping for a revival on The CW Network. But where do you send the little girls who want to see more Supergirl? The tweens who want to read about The Flash? The teens who want more Green Arrow?

Face Front, True Believers! We’ve got the reading lists to help you save the day!

Deadpool

Thanks to Thomas Maluck (TM) and Jennifer Wharton (JW) for writing the recommendations in this list.

Recommendations are listed alphabetically by title.

Content notes: Content notes for all titles listed here consist of “bloody violence and crude humor”.

Suggested Age Range: Age ranges for all titles list here are “15 and up”

Deadpool, Vol. 1: Dead Presidentsdeadpres

Written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan
Art by Tony Moore

ISBN: 9780785166801
Published: 2013

Elevator Pitch: This is the first part of a much longer Deadpool series, kicking off here with a SHIELD-assigned black ops mission to take out reanimated ex-presidents (can you imagine the PR nightmare?). Deadpool is happy to play the absurd jester of the Marvel universe, but there’s plenty of tragedy and regret in Wade Wilson’s life in future volumes, too. (TM)

Appeals to: Fans of Deadpool! And ghosts of dead American presidents.

 

Deadpool by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1complete

Written by Daniel Way and Andy Diggle
Art by Steve Dillon, Paco Medina, Carlo Barberi, and Bong Dazo

ISBN: 9780785185321
Published: 2013

Elevator Pitch: The Skrulls are attacking and Deadpool is there to save the day. Or join the Skrulls. Or ruin the day. Or…what the heck is he doing? Well, trying to get paid for oncebut he’s going to have to defeat Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers first. Also includes several short stories, including Deadpool going up against Wolverine! (JW)

Appeals to: Fans of Deadpool, Wolverine, and general violence.

[Note: This series was previous collected as Deadpool, Vol. 1: Secret Invasion, Vol. 2: Dark Reign, and Dark Reign: Deadpool/Thunderbolts in 2010.]

 

Deadpool Classic, Vol. 11: Merc with a Mouthmerc

Written by by Victor Gischler and Mary Choi
Art by Bong Dazo, Kyle Baker, Rob Liefeld, Matteo Scalera, Ken Lashley, and Ed McGuinness

ISBN: 9780785197300
Published: 2015

Elevator Pitch: Deadpool’s zombie head is getting on his…well, it’s getting annoying. It’s time for Headpool to return to the Zombieverse, but getting in is easier than getting out. (JW)

Appeals to: Fans of Marvel Zombies.

[Note: This series previously collected as Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth in 2010.]

 

Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universekills

Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Dalibor Talajic

ISBN: 9780785164036
Published: 2012

Elevator Pitch: An asylum breached by villains attempts to brainwash Deadpool, but instead the voices in his head thin out to just one: a psychotic murderer. What use is Iron Man’s armor or The Hulk’s strength against a determined assassin who can regenerate? The pitch is in the title! (TM)

Appeals to: People who like to start debates with “Who would win?” or have otherwise been itching to see Deadpool square off with a good deal of Marvel characters.

 

Deadpool vs Thanosthanos

Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Elmo Bondoc

ISBN: 9780785198451
Published: 2015

Elevator Pitch: Deadpool is finally going up against his rival for the fair, er, skeletal hand of deathThanos. But could there be another entity in this love triangle? (JW)

Appeals to: Fans of the movie wanting to try some shorter stories, with extra violence and a fun visit to hell.

 

 

Deadpool’s Art of Warart

Written by Peter David
Art by Scott Koblish

ISBN: 9780785190974
Published: 2015

Elevator Pitch: Deadpool, acting as a wafer-thin author stand-in, wants to make money from writing a book, so he decides to rip off The Art of War by employing its wisdom on several factions across the Marvel universe. What starts as a prank project starts to take on a life of its own and threatens the world. (TM)

Appeals to: Sun Tzu fans, anyone wanting to see a scheme spiral out of control.

 

Hawkeye vs. Deadpoolhawkeye

Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Matteo Lolli and Jacopo Camagni

ISBN: 9780785193104
Published: 2015

Elevator Pitch: Somewhere out there is a flash drive containing the identities of every SHIELD agent, and it’s up to Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), and Deadpool to retrieve it! Oh, but Clint was brainwashed to sabotage the whole effort. And nobody wants Deadpool around, which leads to much bickering. (TM)

Appeals to: Fans of goofy crossovers or the Fraction/Aja run of Hawkeye (this book features some visual cues borrowed from that series).

 

Night of the Living Deadpoolnight

Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Ramon Rosanas

ISBN: 2014
Published: 9780785190172

Elevator Pitch: Deadpool wakes from a coma in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and must fight to survive, riffing merrily on zombie movies and tropes along the way. Will Deadpool ever get to marathon Golden Girls again? (TM)

Appeals to: Fans of zombie fiction and black/white/red coloring.

Must Have: Daredevil

Today’s graphic literature fans are enjoying a golden age of television undreamed of. Whether you’re a fan of superheroics, spy-thrillers, or horror, there’s something for virtually everyone. But what happens when someone goes looking for the books that inspired their favorite shows? More often than not they get confused,.

It’s fairly simple to track down The Walking Dead books. iZombie and Preacher (soon to be a series on AMC) have been collected into neat little volumes. Even the various volumes of Hellblazer aren’t too difficult to navigate for those proud Constantine fans still hoping for a revival on The CW Network. But where do you send the little girls who want to see more Supergirl? The tweens who want to read about The Flash? The teens who want more Green Arrow?

Face Front, True Believers! We’ve got the reading lists to help you save the day!

DDFMDaredevil by Frank Miller

Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (9780785134794)
Daredevil By Frank Miller & Klaus Johnson, vol. 1 (9780785134732)
Daredevil By Frank Miller & Klaus Johnson, vol. 2 (9780785134749)
Daredevil By Frank Miller & Klaus Johnson, vol. 3 (9780785134756)
Daredevil: Born Again (9780785134817)

While Frank Miller’s recent works have been widely disparaged and Frank himself is apparently no big fan of the Netflix Daredevil series, his influence upon the character and the TV series cannot be denied. The black ninja costume, which Matt utilized for most of the show’s first season, came directly from his retelling of Daredevil’s origins in The Man Without Fear. Miller was also responsible for the modern characterization of Kingpin and the creation of Matt’s first tragic love, Elektra.

We would be remiss in not recommending the whole of Miller’s work with the character, particularly his final story, Born Again, which is not only a great Daredevil story but also features one of the best portrayals of The Avengers and Captain America in comic history.

DDBendisDaredevil by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev

Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Ultimate Collection, vol. 1 (9780785143888)
Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Ultimate Collection, vol. 2 (9780785149507)
Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Ultimate Collection, vol. 3 (9780785149514)

The Bendis/Maleev run has done more to influence Daredevil as a character than any other creative team in recent memory. As such, it is well worth considering though it focuses upon an older Matt Murdock facing new challenges as an established vigilante and lawyer.

 

DDWaidDaredevil by Mark Waid

Daredevil by Mark Waid, vol. 1 (9780785152385)
Daredevil by Mark Waid, vol. 2 (9780785152408)
Daredevil by Mark Waid, vol. 3 (9780785161011)
Daredevil by Mark Waid, vol. 4 (9780785161035)
Daredevil by Mark Waid, vol. 5 (9780785161059
Daredevil by Mark Waid, vol. 6 (9780785166795)
Daredevil by Mark Waid, vol. 7 (9780785189619)
Daredevil, vol. 1: Devil At Bay (9780785154112)
Daredevil, vol. 2: West-Case Scenario (9780785154129)
Daredevil, vol. 3: The Daredevil You Know (9780785192282)
Daredevil, vol. 4: The Autobiography of Matt Murdock (9780785198024)

Waid’s recent runs on Daredevil stand out in sharp contrast to the works of Miller and Bendis. Faced with no other way to make Matt Murdock’s life any more depressing, Waid decided to do the unthinkable and return Matt Murdock to his swashbuckling, laugh-in-the-face-of-danger roots under Stan Lee’s pen. This is not to say that this book is any less dark or disturbed at times. Indeed, the story arcs involving the slave-trading villain Coyote and a grave-robbing Mole Man are some of the most nightmarish scenarios we’ve ever seen! But Waid restored a sense of fun that was sorely lacking in the character for several decades. It should prove an interesting contrast for those who only know the character from Netflix.

[Note: All of these series have been released multiple times in different editions (hardcover, softcover, etc.) with differing content. Before ordering, you might want to check exactly which “Daredevil, vol. 4” you already have in your collection.]

Must Have: Legends of Tomorrow

Today’s graphic literature fans are enjoying a golden age of television undreamed of. Whether you’re a fan of superheroics, spy-thrillers, or horror, there’s something for virtually everyone. But what happens when someone goes looking for the books that inspired their favorite shows? More often than not they get confused,.

It’s fairly simple to track down The Walking Dead books. iZombie and Preacher (soon to be a series on AMC) have been collected into neat little volumes. Even the various volumes of Hellblazer aren’t too difficult to navigate for those proud Constantine fans still hoping for a revival on The CW Network. But where do you send the little girls who want to see more Supergirl? The tweens who want to read about The Flash? The teens who want more Green Arrow?

Face Front, True Believers! We’ve got the reading lists to help you save the day!

Legends of Tomorrow

Creating recommendations for fans of this show is a bit tricky, since the show is based off numerous sources from the DC Comics Universe and not a lot of them have been collected. Many of the ones that have been collected are out of print and out of continuity, for what that is worth. Still, here’s a few series that might be worth tracking down.

Booster_Gold-_52_Pick-UpBooster Gold

Booster Gold, vol 1: 52 Pick-Up (9781401220068)
Booster Goldvol 2: Blue & Gold (9781401220143)
Booster Goldvol 3: Day Of Death (9781401226435)
Booster Goldvol 4: Past Imperfect (9781401230241)
Booster Goldvol 5: Reality Lost (9781401222499)
Booster Goldvol 6: The Tomorrow Memory (9781401229184)

Probably the closest thing DC Comics ever published that could directly compare to the concept for Legends of Tomorrow, Booster Gold focused upon the titular glory-hogging hero as he became the secret guardian of the DC Comics’ timeline. A number of talented writers worked on this series before it ended, including Geoff Johns, Keith Giffen and Chuck Dixon. It also features Rip Hunterthe time-traveler who is leading the Legendsin a supporting role as Booster’s partner.

 

JSA-1-Justice-Be-DoneJustice Society of America

JSAvol. 1: Justice Be Done (9781563896200)
JSAvol. 2: Darkness Falls (9781563897399)
JSAvol. 3: The Return of Hawkman (9781563899126)
JSAvol. 4: Fair Play (9781563899591)
JSAvol. 5: Stealing Thunder (9781563899942)
JSAvol. 6: Savage Times (9781401202538)
JSAvol. 7: Princes of Darkness (9781401204693)
JSAvol. 8: Black Reign (9781401204808)
JSAvol. 9: Lost (9781401207229)
JSAvol. 10: Black Vengeance (9781401209667)
JSAvol. 11: Mixed Signals (9781401209674)
JSAvol. 12: Ghost Stories (9781401211967)

Another classic series with writing by Man of Steel writer David Goyer as well as Geoff Johns and James Robinson. This series is noteworthy for having introduced the Kendra Saunders version of Hawkgirl as well as the origin for Hawkman utilized on The Flash and Arrow. It also features Vandal Savage as the villain of one storyline and features some stories involving time travel, including one with Rip Hunter trying to stop the JSA’s many members from being killed by a time-traveling Nazi!

hawkmanHawkgirl and Hawkman

Hawkmanvol. 1: Endless Flight (9781563899522)
Hawkmanvol. 2: Allies and Enemies (9781401201968)
Hawkmanvol. 3: Wings of Fury (9781401204679)

Spun out of JSA, the first 25 issues of this series were written by James Robinson and Geoff Johns and continued to expand upon the newest incarnations of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Kendra Saunders and Carter Hall.

 

 

 

 

Atom_Archives_Vol_1_2The Atom

The Atom Archivesvol. 1 (9781563897177)
The Atom Archivesvol. 2 (9781401200145)

Ray Palmer can’t get any respect. He hasn’t had his own title in years and the hero in the comics bares little resemblance to his counterpart on Arrow. Still, one could do worse than to add these books collecting classic material from the 1960s (featuring artwork by the legendary Gil Kane at the height of his powers) to their library collection. 

 

 

firestormFirestorm

Firestorm: The Nuclear Manvol. 1 (9781401231835)

This is the only volume collecting any of the original Firestorm series.

Fury Of Firestorm, The Nuclear Menvol. 1: God Particle (9781401237004)
Fury Of Firestorm, The Nuclear Menvol. 2: The Firestorm Protocols (9781401240325)
Fury Of Firestorm, The Nuclear Menvol. 3: Takeover (9781401242923)

As with our Supergirl list, we’d advise against picking up this New 52 series. Despite having some talented creators working on it, this series never really clicked with most readers. Additionally, the differences between the characters in the comics relative to their counterparts on the show (who are based more on the pre-New 52 comic incarnations) may be off-putting.

 

bopv6White Canary

Birds of Prey:Of Like Minds (9781401201920)
Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student (9781401204341)
Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn (9781401209407)
Birds of Prey: The Battle Within (9781401210960)
Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch (9781401211912)
Birds of Prey: Blood & Circuits (9781401213718)
Birds of Prey: Dead Of Winter (9781401216412)

Birds of Preyvol. 1: End Run (9781401231323)
Birds of Preyvol. 2: Death of Oracle (9781401234492)

Sara Lance is a character unique to the Arrow universe. And while there is an assassin character called White Canary, who was introduced in Gail Simone’s second Birds of Prey run, she was Asian and a villain. That being said, we’d still recommend Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey runs to anyone interested in the character.

Why? Well, Simone has done more to develop the character of Black Canary than any writer in modern history. Additionally, despite Laurel adopting the Black Canary monikerSara’s character drew far more inspiration from Simone’s take on the character than Laurel. Simone’s Canary trained with assassins, worked out of a clocktower, looked after a girl named Sin and was a confirmed bisexualall traits Sara Lance has.

Black Canaryvol. 1: Kicking and Screaming (due out 2016/03/08) – (9781401261177)

We’re also going to suggest the new Black Canary collection by Brenden Fletcher and Annie Wu. Partly because it’s a good series that’s easy for new readers to get into and partly because there’s an as-of-yet unidentified female assassin with blonde hair and blue eyes that is clad in all-white chasing after Black Canary, helping her out. Could we be about to see the introduction of Sara Lance to the comics? Could be…

suicideSuicide Squad

Suicide Squad, vol. 1: Trial by Fire (9781401258313)
Suicide Squad, vol. 2: The Nightshade Odssey (9781401258337)
Suicide Squad, vol. 3: Rogues (due Out: 2016/04/12)  (9781401260910)
Suicide Squad, vol. 4: (due Out: 2016/07/26) – 9781401262617 

One of the most influential yet underrated comics series in history, John Ostrander’s run on Suicide Squad set a standard that has never truly been equaled. While none of the Squad members in the comics are a part of the Legends team, the concept of an eclectic mix of heroes and villains joining together to do the things ordinary superheroes wouldn’t or couldn’t manage was refined here. Also, the two-part story White Knight/Fail-Safe – in which the Legends have to infiltrate a Russian Prison at the height of The Cold War – owes a huge stylistic debt to the themes that permeated Suicide Squad. If nothing else, it also wouldn’t be a bad idea to have these issues on hand for when the Suicide Squad movie comes out.

flashThe Flash

The Flash by Geoff Johns: Book 1 (9781401258733)
The Flash by Geoff Johns: Book 2 (due out 2016/05/24) – (9781401261016)

Yes, we mentioned these books under our The Flash list, but we’re mentioning them again because Geoff Johns wrote the definitive Captain Cold and Heat Wave origins as part of his run on The Flash and we wanted to be sure you didn’t miss out.

Must Have: Green Arrow

Today’s graphic literature fans are enjoying a golden age of television undreamed of. Whether you’re a fan of superheroics, spy-thrillers, or horror, there’s something for virtually everyone. But what happens when someone goes looking for the books that inspired their favorite shows? More often than not they get confused,.

It’s fairly simple to track down The Walking Dead books. iZombie and Preacher (soon to be a series on AMC) have been collected into neat little volumes. Even the various volumes of Hellblazer aren’t too difficult to navigate for those proud Constantine fans still hoping for a revival on The CW Network. But where do you send the little girls who want to see more Supergirl? The tweens who want to read about The Flash? The teens who want more Green Arrow?

Face Front, True Believers! We’ve got the reading lists to help you save the day!

arrowArrow

Written by Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim
Art by various

Arrow Vol. 1 (9781401242992)
Arrow Vol. 2 (9781401246037)
Arrow: Season 2.5 – Vol. 1 (9781401257484)
Arrow: Season 2.5 – Vol. 2 (due out 06/28/16) – (9781401263294)

Much like The Flash: Season Zero, these volumes are set in the same universe as the Arrow TV series and written by the show’s writers. The Season 2.5 series, set between seasons 2 and 3 of Arrow, is noteworthy as it introduced a new Brother Blood who was closer in spirit to the original comic character as well as an excellent Suicide Squad story.

 

yearoneGreen Arrow: Year One

Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Jock

Green Arrow: Year One (9781401217433)

This mini-series was basically the foundation for Arrow as a series and would have redefined the character of Oliver Queen for a new generation of comic fans had it not been for the New 52 reboot only two years later. Written by Andy Diggle with art by Jock, the two topped their previous work together on the Vertigo series The Losers. A must have.

 

 

longbowGreen Arrow by Mike Grell

Written by Mike Grell
Art by Mike Grell and various

Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters (9781401238629)
Green Arrow Vol. 1: Hunters Moon (9781401243265)
Green Arrow Vol. 2: Here There Be Dragons (9781401251338)
Green Arrow Vol. 3: The Trial Of Oliver Queen (9781401255237)
Green Arrow Vol. 4: Blood of the Dragon (due out 01/05/16) – (9781401258221)

For many fans, Mike Grell is the definitive Green Arrow writer and artist, his Longbow Hunters mini-series having earned The Emerald Archer his first-ever ongoing solo series. Although he didn’t do the interiors for the new book, Grell did create most of the covers for his 80-issue run, which DC Comics has only recently begun collecting in TPB format. Be warned though that this comic was intended for Mature Readers and should be kept firmly in the Adult Graphic Novel collection. It does not shy away from blood, nudity or adult subject matters.

 

52New 52 Green Arrow

Written by various
Art by various

Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Midas Touch (9781401234867)
Green Arrow Vol. 2: Triple Threat (9781401238421)
Green Arrow Vol. 3: Harrow (9781401244057)
Green Arrow Vol. 4: The Kill Machine (9781401246907)
Green Arrow Vol. 5: The Outsiders War (9781401250447)
Green Arrow Vol. 6: Broken (9781401254742)
Green Arrow Vol. 7: Kingdom (9781401257620)
Green Arrow By Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino Deluxe Edition (9781401257613)

As with the Supergirl New 52 series, we mention these volumes only to warn you away from them. The New 52 Green Arrow title has been erratic at best in terms of quality. The creative team changed three times within the first year and most agree the book was a complete mess until Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino took over for volumes 4-6. While critics loved these three volume, many long-time Green Arrow fans felt Lemire’s story, while interesting, was not in keeping with the general mythos of Green Arrow as a character. This may be what led to two writers of the Arrow TV show taking over the series with Volume 7: Kingdom. Unfortunately, the readers who liked Lemire and Sorrentino’s work balked at the new writers’ efforts to introduce Felicity Smoak as a recurring character along with other elements of the classic pre-New 52 Green Arrow comics. You might consider getting Volumes 4-6 as they are good comics and Volume 7 as a curiosity, but you can safely avoid the New 52 Green Arrow series if your budget is tight. Helpfully, DC recently reprinted volumes 4-6 as Green Arrow By Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino Deluxe Edition.

quiverGreen Arrow by Kevin Smith

Written by Kevin Smith
Art by Phil Hester and Ande Parks

Green Arrow: Quiver (New Edition) – (9781401259426)
Green Arrow: The Sounds Of Violence (9781401200459)

I don’t have much to say about these volumes that I didn’t already say in my Classic Fantastic review. What I can say is that DC Comics recently put out a new edition of Quiverthe first story arc of Kevin Smith, Phil Hester, and Ande Park’s legendary run on Green Arrow. A reprint of their second storyThe Sounds of Violence, has yet to be released, but it is still available and well worth tracking down. Be warned, however, that these volumeswhile not as raw as the Mike Grell Green Arrow rundo still deal with some adult themes and humor. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with Kevin Smith’s work as a filmmaker, but anyone interested in these volumes would be advised to keep them in the Older Teen or Adult collections.

Must Have: Supergirl

Today’s graphic literature fans are enjoying a golden age of television undreamed of. Whether you’re a fan of superheroics, spy-thrillers, or horror, there’s something for virtually everyone. But what happens when someone goes looking for the books that inspired their favorite shows? More often than not they get confused,.

It’s fairly simple to track down The Walking Dead books. iZombie and Preacher (soon to be a series on AMC) have been collected into neat little volumes. Even the various volumes of Hellblazer aren’t too difficult to navigate for those proud Constantine fans still hoping for a revival on The CW Network. But where do you send the little girls who want to see more Supergirl? The tweens who want to read about The Flash? The teens who want more Green Arrow?

Face Front, True Believers! We’ve got the reading lists to help you save the day!

Supergirl

The good news is that DC Comics is doing a lot to put more Supergirl books on the stands in the wake of the hit CBS series! The bad news is… well, there isn’t a lot out at the time of this writing in early 2016, but the coming months will feature plenty of both new and old material being printed.

tvSupergirl: Digital First

Written by Sterling Gates
Art by various

Vol. 1 (due out 08/09/2016) ISBN: 9781401262655

DC Comics, 2016

A must have. Not only is it written by Sterling Gates, whose work inspired a lot of the Supergirl TV series, but it is directly based on the TV show! Unfortunately it won’t be out until August.

 

 

 

cosmic

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade

Written by Landry Q. Walker
Art by Eric Jones

Old edition ISBN: 9781401225063
New edition (due out 05/10/16) ISBN: 9781401263201

DC Comics, 2016

This fun little series should be a must-have for any children’s library graphic novel section. The artwork is cute and the writing is suitable for all ages. A new edition of this hard to find series is due out in May 2016.

 

 

 

sterlingSupergirl by Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle

Written by Sterling Gates and Greg Rucka
Art by Jamal Igle and others

Vol. 6: Who Is Superwoman? ISBN: 9781401225070
Vol. 7: Friends And Fugitives ISBN: 9781401227951
Vol. 8: Death & The Family ISBN: 9781401229139
Vol. 9: Bizarrogirl ISBN: 9781401231699

DC Comics, 2009 – 2011

These four volumes, taken from the pre-New 52 comics, are probably your best bet for teen readers. This was the run that inspired a lot of the Supergirl TV series mythology, particularly her rivalry with Cat Grant. Indeed, writer Sterling Gates has been tapped to write the upcoming comic based on the Supergirl TV series! Another bonus is that artist Jamal Igle eliminated most of the fan service that plagued the book in its early days and was careful to design a more realistically proportioned Kara.

[The following is a look at the other titles available, or soon to be available. They’re not essential titles like the ones above, but your library might still want to have them.]

New 52 Supergirlnew52

By various creators

Vol. 1 – Last Daughter of Krypton ISBN: 9781401236809
Vol. 2 – Girl In The World ISBN: 9781401240875
Vol. 3 – Sanctuary ISBN: 9781401243180
Vol. 4 – Out Of The Past ISBN: 9781401247003
Vol. 5 – Red Daughter Of Krypton ISBN: 9781401250515
Vol. 6 – Crucible ISBN: 9781401255411

DC Comics, 2012-2015

This is included mostly because, as the most recent series, it is the series most librarians will be tempted to order. We can’t recommend this one in good faith, as this Supergirl series is a far darker beast than the more optimistic TV series, with a Supergirl who intentionally tries to separate herself from her more famous cousin and works to help people grudgingly. Additionally, due to continual crossovers with the other Super Family books, the storylines tended to be all over the place.

 

Supergirl: The Girl of Steel51Z0VlDLdcL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

By various creators

Superman/Batman: Vol. 2 – Supergirl ISBN: 9781401202507
Supergirl: Vol. 1 – Power ISBN: 9781401209155
Supergirl: Vol. 2 – Candor ISBN: 9781401212261
Supergirl: Vol. 3 – Identity ISBN: 9781401214845

DC Comics, 2005-2007

Supergirl: Vol. 1: The Girl of Steel (due out 1/27/16 or 2/2/16) ISBN 9781401260934

DC Comics, 2016

The Girl of Steel collects the first 12 issues of the 2005 Supergirl series. Unfortunately, this series was a bit of a mess with the writer and direction changing four times over the course of the first year. They’re not completely without merit but they are largely inaccessible to new readers, requiring a good general knowledge of the DC Universe at the time. A larger issue is that Kara isn’t so much a character in most of these stories as she is an object to be fought over and the artwork by Michael Turner and Ian Churchill objectifies her even more than the stories!

Supergirl: Vol. 4 – Beyond Good And Evil ISBN: 9781401218508
Supergirl: Vol. 5 – Way Of The World ISBN: 9781401221294

Much like the first three volumes collecting this Supergirl series, the fourth volume by Kelley Puckett suffers from being overly dependent on knowing the events of other comics. By contrast, Way of The World is an excellent stand-alone story in which Kara attempts to use her powers to save the life of one terminally ill boy.

 

9781401260927Supergirl by Peter David and Gary Frank

Written by Peter David
Art by Gary Frank

(due out 05/31/16) – ISBN: 9781401260927

DC Comics, 2016

We’re mentioning this one only to warn you off.  This series wasn’t bad but it is bad for newbie comics readers. This volume collects the first eight issues of the 1990s Supergirl comic, starring a version of Supergirl that has no relation to Superman! This Supergirl is a combination of a shape-shifting artificial lifeform from a parallel universe called The Matrix and a teenage girl named Linda Danvers, who died in the middle of a Satanic ritual. And then she becomes an angel. So yeah… the whole thing is confusing as all get out and will undoubtedly annoy your more conservative patrons. So don’t get it.

The Daring Adventures of Supergirl

Written by Paul Kupperberg 
Art by Carmine Infantino

Vol. 1 (due out 07/19/2016) – ISBN: 9781401263461

DC Comics, 2016

This volume reprints the first 12 issues of the 1982 Supergirl series. While it’s unclear how well these stories may have aged, they’re probably safe for all ages having been printed in the pre-Crisis DC Universe. For older readers the fact that they feature artwork by Barry Allen’s co-creator and long-time DC Comics editorial director Carmen Infantino might make them worth a look. 

Supergirl: The Silver Age

Omnibus Vol. 1 – (due out 06/14/16) ISBN: 9781401262464

By various creators

DC Comics, 2016

At $75 this hardcover collection may be beyond the means of most libraries. It may be of interest historically, but unless you have a large population of older comic fans it may be best to give this one a pass.

Must Have: The Flash

Today’s graphic literature fans are enjoying a golden age of television undreamed of. Whether you’re a fan of superheroics, spy-thrillers, or horror, there’s something for virtually everyone. But what happens when someone goes looking for the books that inspired their favorite shows? More often than not they get confused,.

It’s fairly simple to track down The Walking Dead books. iZombie and Preacher (soon to be a series on AMC) have been collected into neat little volumes. Even the various volumes of Hellblazer aren’t too difficult to navigate for those proud Constantine fans still hoping for a revival on The CW Network. But where do you send the little girls who want to see more Supergirl? The tweens who want to read about The Flash? The teens who want more Green Arrow?

Face Front, True Believers! We’ve got the reading lists to help you save the day!

1The Flash: Season Zero

Written by various
Art by various

The Flash: Season Zero Vol. 1 (9781401257712)
The Flash: Season Zero Vol. 2 (due out 07/05/16 ) – (9781401263386)

Set in the reality of the television series and written by writers on the show’s writing staff, this series is a must-have. All of your favorite characters are here and every issue reads like an episode of the show. You can find No Flying No Tights’ full review of this title here.

 

 

 

2New 52: The Flash

Written by Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato, Robert Venditti, and Van Jensen
Art by Francis Manapul, Patrick Zircher, and Brett Booth

The Flash: Vol 1 – Move Forward (9781401235536)
The Flash: Vol 2 – Rogues’ Revolution (9781401240318)
The Flash: Vol 3 – Gorilla Warfare (9781401242749)
The Flash: Vol 4 – Reverse (9781401247133)
The Flash: Vol 5 – History Lessons (9781401249502)
The Flash: Vol 6 – Out Of Time (9781401254278)
The Flash: Vol 7 – Savage World (due out 01/19/16) – (9781401258757)

Unlike a lot of The New 52 comics, The Flash has been consistently well-written and easily accessible to new readers. The artwork has proven equally amazing. This is another must-have for your teen collection.

 

The Flash by Geoff Johns

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by various

The Flash by Geoff Johns: Book 1 (9781401258733)
The Flash by Geoff Johns: Book 2 (due out 05/24/16) – (9781401261016)

Johns was the definitive Flash writer throughout the 2000s and he’s co-written several episodes of The Flash TV series in addition to being an Executive Producer.

The Flash: Rebirth (9781401230012)

While it may have set the land-speed record for going out of continuity (the New 52 reboot occurred just months after this TPB hit the stands), Geoff Johns’ story detailing Barry Allen’s adjusting to life in the modern DCU after coming back from the dead is still a good crash-course in the history of all the heroes to call themselves The Flash.

4Crisis On Infinite Earths

Written by Marv Wolfman
Art by George Pérez

Crisis On Infinite Earths: Deluxe Edition (9781401258412)

Not the first Crisis story, but it is the one that set the standard by which all crossovers are measured. It appears that The Flash TV series may be building toward this point, at least based on the quick glimpses we’ve seen of future newspapers. Even so, this story is worth having in your collection regardless of it revealing the final fate of Barry Allen… at least until The Flash: Rebirth.

 

 

 

5The Flash by Mark Waid

Written by Mark Waid
Art by various

The Flash: The Return of Barry Allen (9781563892684)
The Flash: Terminal Velocity (9781563892493)
The Flash: Dead Heat (9781563896231)
The Flash: Race Against Time (9781563897214)

Despite being considered by many to be the definitive Flash writer, surprisingly little of Mark Waid’s run from the 1990s has been collected.  These four volumes are worth a look, though they’re focused upon the third Flash, Wally West.

 


The Flash by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar

Written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar
Art by Paul Ryan, John Nyberg, and Ron Wagner

The Flash by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar (9781401261023) (due out 04/19/16)

At the time of this partnership, Morrison was just barely getting his feet wet on JLA and was still better known for his Vertigo work than for redefining superheroes for the modern age. And Mark Millar was a relative unknown compared to the heights of fame he would later find for his independent work and on various titles set in Marvel Comics’ Ultimate universe. Definitely worth a look to see these two legendary creators working together.