Category: Graphic Novels/Manga

Batman Arkham Asylum 15th Anniversary Edition
Author: Grant Morrison
Illustrator: Dave McKean
ISBN-13: 978-1401204259
DC Comics, New York, 2004
216 p.

GENRE: Graphic Novel, Superhero

TEASER: The prisoners of Arkham Asylum have taken over. What do they want? Batman.

SUMMARY: The criminals of Arkham Asylum have taken over. Among these inmates are Two-Face, The Mad hatter, Killer Croc, Clayface, Scarecrow, and many more. They are led by the joker. Their demands? Batman must be handed over to them where they will make him a prisoner of Arkham Asylum.

CRITIQUE: The anniversary edition includes a section at the back that is the full script and notes from Grant Morrison. It also contains the thumbnail layouts from the original project. The art for this book is some of the best I’m seen in a graphic novel. It is not the usual crisp and clean style that we are used to seeing with superhero comics. The story and the art are dark and eerie. They transport you into one of the darkest Batman stories ever told.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Grant Morrison is a Scottish graphic novel writer and playwright. He has written stories for JLA, Fantastic Four, New X-Men, and The Invisibles.


ABOUT THE ARTIST: David McKean is an illustrator, photographer, comic book artist, graphic designer, filmmaker and musician. He has designed the covers of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and The Graveyard Book.


READING LEVEL: General Adult

CHALLENGE ISSUES: This graphic novel contains dark themes and heavy violence.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.


BOOKTALKING IDEAS: There is a lot of violence in this story? Did you feel it was necessary to the story or added more for drama?

WHY INCLUDED: I wanted to include a superhero graphic novel. This one appealed to me because of the art and the dark story.


Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa
Japanese Titles: 鋼の錬金術師 Hagane no Renkinjutsushi
ISBN-13: 978-1591169208
Published by Viz Media
Run: August 2001-June 2010
Volumes In Series: 27

GENRE: Manga

TEASER: Edward and Alphonse Elric have attempted a heinous and forbidden act of alchemy, they tried to resurrect the dead. Now they must search for the fabled philosopher’s stone to restore their bodies.

SUMMARY: In this alternative universe, alchemy is the most advanced science known to man. Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric try to use this power in order to bring their mother back from the dead, a dangerous and forbidden act in the practice of alchemy. Th result causes Edward to lose a leg and and arm and Alphonse to lose his entire body. Edward now has prostetics called automail which he can manipulate with his alchemy. Alphonse’s soul is trapped inside a suite of armor. The Elric brothers seek to restore their bodies and to do that they need to find the fabled Philosopher’s Stone.

Edward joins the ranks of the stae alchemists where he becomes and agent. Edward is the youngest state alchemist in history. He is also one of the few alchemists who can preform alchemy without an alchemic symbol.

CRITIQUE: This manga has a little bit of something for everyone, magic, humor, mystery, horror, and drama. In this first volume we’ve just been given a taste of the Elric’s story. However, their characters and personalities already shine through. The characters in this series are complex and well written. The art is attractive and easy to follow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hiromu Arakawa is a female mangaka (manga artist). She was raised on a dairy farm with five sisters. She often portrays herself as a cow with glasses. Fullmetal Alchemist has been adapted to two different anime series. Some of her other works are Raiden 18, Stray Dog, and Silver Spoon. She currently resides in Tokyo.



CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some readers might be bothered by the issue of raising the dead, adverse religious views, and violence.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.


BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Discuss the laws of alchemy as they apply to the series.

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the most popular boy manga right now. It has complex characters and themes. I was initially drawn to the series because of the use of alchemy.

Fruits Basket Vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya
Japanese Titles: フルーツバスケット, Furūtsu Basuketto
Original Run: January 1999-November 2006
Published by TokyoPop
Volumes: 23

GENRE: Manga, Comedy, Romance

TEASER: Has Torhu finally found a real home? Can she keep the Sohma’s curse a secret and avoid the attention of the head of the family?

SUMMARY: Fruits Basket is the story of Tohru Honda. Tohru is and orphan who has been living in the woods in a tent because she has no where else to go. When Yuki and Shigure Sohma find out they offer her a job as their housekeeper. But there is as curse on the Sohma family. Anytime they are hugged by a member of the oposite sex, they turn into a animal of the Chinese zodiac. After she discovers their secret through a series a of hilarious events, will Tohru be able to keep on living with the Sohmas?

CRITIQUE: This first volume is a great entry into the series. The dialogue is very funny and entertaining. There are elements of comedy, romance, and action. The first volume doesn’t get too dark or heavy. There are a few moments when dealing with Tohru’s family. When she moves in with her relatives after the remodeling is done on their home they are very cruel to her. They make it clear that she is not wanted their. There are also hints of future tensions within the family. Akito will prove to be a character of conflict within the story.

The art is very feminine and sometimes childlike which is common for girls manga. i am not always a fan of this style of drawing but this manga was so funny and cute that I hardly noticed. Torhu is also the type of character who annoys me but I found myself actually liking her in this series. This cast of characters is quirky and fun. THis should be very entertaining series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Natsuki Takaya is the pen name of Naka Hatake, a female mangaka (manga artist). Other series by Takaya are Phantom Dream, Because You Smile When I Sing,, Hoshi wa Utau , and Tsubasa: Those with Wings. Fruits Basket has been adapted into a twenty-six episode anime series.

Takaya grew up in Tokyo. She enjoys drawing girls and children the most. She also is a fan of the Final Fantasy video game series.






BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Talk about the Chinese zodiac and all of it’s respective parts.

WHY INCLUDED: I have been hearing for years about the glories of Fruits Basket. It is also one of the most popular shokjo mangas in the world.

Pride and Prejudice by Adapted Nancy Butler, Art by Hugo Petrus
ISBN-13: 978-0785139164
Marvel, New York, 2010
120 p.

GENRE: Graphic Novel, Classics Redone

TEASER: It’s the classic tale of Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist.

SUMMARY: Elizabeth Bennet is sprited and confident. This frustrates her mother who wishes to see all of her daughters married. Mr. Darcy is fascinated by Elizabeth, if entirely too frustrating. Can Elizabeth let go of her pride to see that Mr. Darcy isn’t her enemy.

CRITIQUE: I feel that Nancy Butler did a very nice job of abridging the text. There are also some places where she adds dialogue to move the story more efficiently. The language has also been modernized slightly. She stayed true to the original story. Hugo Petrus’s artwork is gorgeous. it did not feel out of place. It fit in perfectly with the regency atmosphere.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Hugo Petrus is a Spanish artist. He produces art for a weekly online comic, La Muse. Nancy Butler is a pen name. Her real name is Nancy J. Hajeski. She is a regency romance author. she also is the writer for the Marvel Classic Sense and Sensibility.





CURRICULUM TIES: English Literature

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Discuss the adaptation of a literary classic to a graphic novel. Do you think it works?

WHY INCLUDED: I love the idea of classics redone with a modern twist. I was first drawn to this title because I am an Austen fan. I think these types of graphic novels are a great way for teachers and librarians to introduce classics to teens.