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Marieke Nijkamp

Wonderful Women of the World

Women change the world…what a perfect topic for Women’s History Month!

Various authors and artists have come together in this collection to honor real-life women. The women are grouped under categories such as strength, compassion, justice, truth, and equality- the virtues that Wonder Woman stands for.

This book is a mixed bag- as all collections are when you pull in different styles of storytelling and art. I was familiar with some of them, as several have written or illustrated other books in the DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults line.

My favs were:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Dissent- the iconic Supreme Court Justice who fought injustice and was a role-model for all! The story highlighted some of her more famous cases such as birth control, voting rights and marriage equality.

Keiko Agena: Asian America’s BFF- The author is an Asian American who always felt left out until she saw actress Agena on the tv series Gilmore Girls. The representation felt inspiring, and helped allow the author herself to explore and grow in her profession.

Ellen Ochoa: Destination Space- Ochoa was determined to be an astronaut, and when turned down, doubled down on her training to learn the skills that NASA was looking for. I loved the group picture that showcased other women astronauts that represented firsts such as Sally Ride and Mae Jemison and included Ochoa as the first Latina in space.

Judith Heumann: How to Ignite a Spark- Heumann is a disabled woman fighting for Disability Rights. The story includes references to landmark cases that have moved forward legal rights for those who are disabled. Her advocacy helped push through Section 504- the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Edith Windsor: How One Women’s Love Changed a Nation- Windsor was in a long-term lesbian relationship, but the two were denied the right to marry. When her partner died and she legally was not recognized, she went all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for marriage equality. The illustration style was among my favorites in this collection.

Mari Copeny: Fighting for Flint- Copeny is a youth who helped bring awareness to the contaminated water that plagues Flint, Michigan. Her letter to President Obama brought attention to the community and she helped raise thousands of dollars to bring clean bottled water to the city. Her youthful passion has made a difference!

Leiomy Maldonado: Generational- showcases two different transgender individuals during different years colored blue vs red, and reveals how people have an easier time now than years ago in being true to themselves. Maldonado is featured at the end, as both unite in awe of her.

Despite the worthy intent of this book with some great biographies, I sadly was not impressed, for it seemed to be trying too hard. For a fantastic collection of short stories about women from history, read Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World by Pénélope Bagieu instead.

-Nancy

The Oracle Code

After a robbery gone wrong, teenage Barbara Gordon is shot, crippled from the waist down, and finds herself looking at a long life in a wheelchair. Her father, Commissioner Gordon, checks her into the Arkham Center for Independence (or ACI): a facility that specializes in therapy and independence for differently-abled people. Dr. Harland Maxwell, the head of the facility, assures Commissioner Gordon that they will be able to help Babs, but she remains skeptical. She used to love solving puzzles and cracking codes, but this one is too big for her to handle. Slowly, Babs makes new friends and even catches herself having some fun. However, patients start disappearing from the facility under mysterious circumstances: one of them being a newfound friend. Does Babs still have it in her to solve puzzles in order to find out what happened?

Though we’re all tired of hearing how to “adapt to the new normal,” this book will help teens do exactly that. Babs went through a huge change: losing her mobility. We clearly see her go through the five stages of grief as she mourns the use of her legs and the future she saw for herself. The emotions she goes through are not only appropriate, but completely normal for making and learning to deal with such a huge adjustment.

As the ACI is Arkham-adjacent, a big element of the book is a ghost story. It’s appropriate too as Babs feels scared by the person she has become, and is mourning her past self, as mentioned above. Much of the book deals with overcoming fear, and the spooky elements only add to that tension.

The art was pretty standard for a Batman related graphic novel. The colors were predominantly muted, with blue and grey backgrounds on which other colors popped. There were motifs of puzzle pieces and computer code sprinkled throughout that I thought were very clever. Some are more obvious than others. There were, however, a few typos; closer editing would have been welcome.

As we have all had to make a huge adjustment, so has teenage Barbara Gordon here. I’d give it to any teen or adult that needs a bit of help doing this for themselves, and validation that their emotions are completely normal.

Kathleen

Nijkamp, Marieke, and Manuel Preitano. The Oracle Code. 2020.

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