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YALSA Hub Challenge: If You Liked Ultimate Comics Spider-Man…

From our discussion last week, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is clearly one of our recent favorite superhero titles, featuring the beloved superheroics as well as a refreshing non-white lead character.  We eagerly anticipate the series as it continues.

So what’s a reader to do when they’ve finished this volume?  Check out these titles we recommend for similar spirit and appeal.

Blue Beetle

by Tony Bedard

Why? If you have the first run of collected editions starring Jaime Reyes as the Blue Beetle, you’ll know what a charming series this is, and how delightful it is to have Reyes, a Mexican-American teen, at the center of the story. In the original run, it was refreshing to have a teen hero whose parents knew what he was up to and who never even tried to keep his identity secret—if you’ve got these paperbacks in your library, make sure to take care of them—they’re now out of print. The New 52 version of Blue Beetle is a reboot, as all the New 52 stories are, but happily Jaime is still at the center of the new incarnation. -Robin

  • Blue Beetle Volume 1: Metamorphosis. 2012. 152 pp. 9781401237134.
  • Blue Beetle Volume 2: Blue Diamond. 2013. 152 pp. 9781401238506.

I Kill Giants

by Joe Kelly and J. M. Ken Nimura,

Why? Another unlikely heroine surfaces in this coming of age comic. Barbara’s mom is dying of cancer and so Barbara starts to kill giants (are they real or imagined?) as a way to cope with her family’s slow distintegration. An affecting and keenly felt look at a teen confronting painful issues with an undefeated attitude. -Esther

  • I Kill Giants. 2009. 184 pp. 9781607060925.


by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley

Why? This series is a natural segue for teens looking for more teen superheroes. Mark Grayson is 17 years old and is just coming into his powers. His mom is a stay-at-home mom, but his dad is Omni-Man, one of the most powerful superheroes on the planet. Young teens in my library have always gravitated to this series after reading Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan. -Esther

  • Invincible Volume 1: 2005. 400 pp. 9781582405001
  • Invincible Volume 2: 2000. 400 pp. 9781582405940
  • Invincible Volume 3: 2007. 400 pp. 9781582407630


by Paul Grist

Why? Like Miles Morales, Owen Craig is a fairly typical teenager with fairly typical teenage problems until he suddenly gains fantastic powers and finds himself thrown headlong into a world of super-people he didn’t even suspect existed. Craig’s powers are, as the title suggests, mud-related, including the ability to turn his body into mud. In addition to Grist’s particular art style and voice, Mudman is separated from many similar teen hero comics by its British setting. -Caleb

  • Mudman Vol. 1. 2012. 144 pp. 9781607065807.


by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin, Emily Martin

Why? Biracial Princess Adrienne is ready to buck stereotypes of all kinds—despite being locked in a tower to wait to be rescued, she decides to team up with the dragon and head off to her own destiny. Which turns out to be rescuing her own brother, for starters. The first volume is harder to find at the moment—if you’ve got it, keep it!—but the second volume is due out this June. -Robin

  • Princeless Volume 1: Save Yourself. 2012. 116 pp. 9781450798945.
  • Princeless Volume 2: Get Over Yourself. 2013. 100 pp. 9780985965242. (forthcoming)

Rapunzel’s Revenge

by Sharon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale

Why? Young, strong and witty, Rapunzel isn’t actually a superhero, but she has all the trappings of one. But Rapunzel doesn’t wait for her prince to come. Instead, she uses her own hair to free herself. She meets Jack and together they free Rapunzel’s mother from being under the witch’s control. This is a light yet adventurous read for teen readers. -Esther

  • Rapunzel’s Revenge. 2008. 144 pp. 9781599902883.
  • Calamity Jack. 2010. 144 pp. 9781599903736.


by Brian K. Vaughan and various

Why? This series set a new standard for tackling teenage characters in the world of superheroes—in this case, concentrating on a group of teens who are unknowingly the children of supervillains and their decision to break free from their parents and become heroes instead. The Runaways are a diverse group, and their continuing struggle to prove themselves both as heroes and individuals apart from their parents resonates beautifully as written by Vaughan. -Robin

  • Runaways Volume 1: Pride & Joy. 2011. 152 pp. 9780785157328.
  • Runaways Volume 2: Teenage Wasteland. 2011. 152 pp. 9780785157335.
  • Runaways Volume 3: The Good Die Young. 2011. 152 pp. 9780785157366.
  • Runaways Volume 4: True Believers. 2011. 152 pp. 9780785157380.
  • Runaways Volume 5: Escape to New York. 2011. 152 pp. 9780785157397.
  • Runaways Volume 6: Parental Guidance. 2011. 152 pp. 9780785157458.
  • Runaways Volume 7: Live Fast. 2011. 152 pp. 9780785157489.


by Ross Campbell

Why? Teenager Scout tries to keep the streets of her futuristic, dystopian city safe as a vigilante after school, but there’s only so much she can do—she’s only human, after all. That changes suddenly when she turns into a super-strong monster and finds herself cut off from her old life and forced to become a full-time crime-fighting creature. As is typical of Campbell’s creator-owned work, Shadoweyes boasts as diverse and realistic a cast of characters as one could hope for as well as a perfect blend of great art, cool character-designs and high-strung teenage melodrama. With their new Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel was trying to create a brand-new Spider-Man for a modern audience, and they came pretty close. But if you asked me to point to the Spider-Man for the 21st century, I’d nominate Shadoweyes, for its angst-ridden teenager struggling to do the right thing as a misunderstood urban vigilante. It’s also a comic that in its stars, characters, and execution, synthesizes various influences from the recent history of comics, rather than simply slapping a new coat of paint on a traditional American superhero story. -Caleb

  • Shadoweyes Volume 1. 2010. 204pp. 9781593621896.
  • Shadoweyes Volume 2: Shadoweyes In Love. 2011. 160 pp. 9781593622084.


by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli

Why? It’s the first team-up of Miles Morales with the original Peter Parker when the Ultimate universe Spider-Man meets the original Spider-Man of Earth 616 (the “real” Marvel Universe) when the villain Mysterio opens a rift between both universes. It’s great to see how Miles reacts to meeting the original Spider-Man,, who is now a grown-up adult and Peter Parker can see that the mantle of Spider-Man is in great hands. All this plus inter-dimensional worlds and an appearance by Nick Fury and the Ultimates. -Mike

  • Spider-Men Volume 1. 2012. 120 pp. 9780785165330.

Young Avengers

by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung

Why? This series, both well-written and beautifully drawn, presents a different array of teens struggling to become heroes than Runaways does, with young people picking up the abandoned mantle of the Avengers.  Notable at first for its inclusion of two gay teens, Billy Kaplan (Wiccan) and Teddy Altman (Hulkling), who are  boyfriends from the start of the series, this series is an engaging and dynamic look at being a young superhero in a world of adults who are disappointing at best and deadly at worst. -Robin

  • Young Avengers Ultimate Collection. 2010. 352 pp. 9780785149071.
  • Avengers: Children’s Crusade. 2012. 248 pp. 9780785135494.
Robin Brenner About Robin Brenner

Robin Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. When not tackling programs and reading advice at work, she writes features and reviews for publications including VOYA, Early Word, Library Journal, and Knowledge Quest. She has served on various awards committees, from the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards to the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards. She is the editor-in-chief of the graphic novel review website No Flying No Tights.


  1. What an awesome resource!!! I am so relieved to have this information, now I look like I know what I am doing in terms of graphic novels. Robin, you rock!

    • Robin Brenner Robin Brenner says

      Thanks, Amy! I couldn’t do it without my colleagues here, and keep an eye out for a new list every two weeks. 🙂

  2. I was wondering if there are any reviews for an elementary audience that I might have missed.

  3. Hey Robin,
    Thanks so much for the fantastic Princeless plug! I love your site and am thrilled just to be mentioned in the company of these books. Please let me know if I can do anything for the site!

    • Robin Brenner Robin Brenner says

      I’m so glad you’re pleased, Jeremy! It’s an easy book to recommend heartily, believe me. Looking forward to the second volume’s release.

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