Superhero: Books!

The first in a new monthly series of superhero themed columns, I take you back to the first format of the superhero and give some recommendations on what to read!

Superhero: Books!

Looking for something to do during lockdown? It’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up on the sofa with a warm mug of tea and a good book. To kick off this new monthly superhero column, let’s take a look through three trade paperbacks that you can sink your teeth into. All are readily available to buy and read some super-powered comic-book content.

‘Wolverine: Origin’

Written by Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada and Paul Jenkins

illustrated by Andy Kubert (pencils) and Richard Isanove (colours)

Not to be confused with Wolverine Origins (which is an entirely different comic-book series), Wolverine: Origin was first released November 2001 until July 2002. I love this series because it delves into Wolverine’s past and introduces us for the first time to his childhood experiences. We learn about James Howlett before he even adopted his famous identity. The story is beautifully dark, intriguing and emotive teamed with powerful illustrations.

DC INK: ‘Teen Titans: Raven’ and ‘Teen Titans: Beast Boy’

Written by Kami Garcia, Illustrated by Gabriel Picolo (Illustrator)

DC INK is a recent strand of DC comics launched in 2019, releasing graphic novels aimed at young adults and suitable for new comic readers to jump aboard. Many of the books released take an alternative spin on much-loved characters, and the Teen Titans series gives us new perspectives and different insights into the superheroes. Both books reinvent the origins for Raven and Beast Boy, focussing more on their everyday lives, teenage antics and family drama. The stories show how their developing powers affect and intertwine with their personal lives. 

I always find exploring the civilian side to supers in comics – and the impact their powers have on their friends, family and relationships – always makes for the most interesting and emotive reading. It captivates readers more than any big battle ever will, and these books play into that idea. What originally drew me to read this series is how beautiful and impactful the artwork is. Each illustration uses colour sparingly, sticking to the colour palettes of the character; raven’s artwork is washed in purple, Beast Boy’s in green, whilst the most important moments are given the full-colour treatment, using colour to reflect the plot and emotions in the story. Picolo's illustrations are intrinsic, fresh and stunning. 


Written by Kurt Busiek, illustrated by Alex Ross

There seems to be a theme developing within this article referencing my love for beautiful painterly artwork and favouritism towards stories that explore how the ordinary interacts with the extraordinary and how daily life interacts with super powers, but these ideas are just so powerful, imaginative and challenging. Ross’ artwork needs no introduction but his realistic style sits perfectly within this trade paperback which discusses how living in a super-powered world would in reality affect everybody else attempting to live their day-to-day lives. Most comic books tell their story from the superheroes perspective, but this series is narrated by an ordinary person, a photo-journalist with no superpowers, telling how the sudden appearance of heroes affected his own career, family and wider society. It takes moments from previous well-known comic book events and origins but reimagines them from a spectator’s point of view, making for an extremely interesting read. There are also a whole host of cameos and easter eggs hidden in Ross’s intricate artwork, so keep an eye out for them! A podcast audio-book of this series was also released in 2019 which captures the atmosphere, sounds and ambiance of these stories, so have a listen to that too!

Header Image Credit: Teen Titans: Raven. DC // Art by Gabriel Picolo


Mary Strickson

Mary Strickson Contributor

I love writing, blogging and reviewing on Voice and other online publications, covering a range of topics but I especially love the arts, activism, film and theatre. When I am not writing I work as an events photographer and artist/illustrator, as well as running workshops in schools and the community, mostly with young people. I'm also a huge history nerd, have a History BA, Art History MA and work in heritage. I love comics, superheroes and anything sci-fi.

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  • Hector Macduff

    On 3 March 2021, 13:09 Hector Macduff Kickstart Team commented:

    Okay I love this for a segment! If you're a comic book fan I'm sure you already know this but if you enjoyed Wolverine: Origin then you have to try skipping to the end and reading Old Man Logan. One of the best series ever made and the basis for the beautiful Hugh Jackman film, Logan. Looking forward to more of these segments!

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