While there are lots of great comics out there, it can be difficult to find graphic novels that feature female protagonists or that have female creative teams. To fill that gap, we’ve attempted to put together a list of the very best graphic novels for girls and teens released in the past year.
While the list is intended for kids, many of the books are wonderful for adults as well. Good literature transcends age.
Without further ado, here are the 12 best graphic novels of 2018 for kids and teens in alphabetical order.
All-New Wolverine: Old Woman Laura (vol. 6)
Tom Taylor, Marco Failla, Djibril Morissette-Phan, Ramon Rosanas, David Lopez
For three years, writer Tom Taylor and a series of talented artists gave us the adventures of Laura Kinney, the mutant clone formerly known as “X-23,” as she assumed the mantle of Wolverine after the death of her mentor Logan. Taylor wrapped up the series this year, as the very dead Logan suddenly got better. (Hey, it is comics, after all.) “Old Woman Laura” jumps to a possible future where Laura once again dons the mantle of Wolverine to settle one last debt against one of Marvel’s greatest enemies. It is superhero comics at their finest, and a great finale for a series that we wished would go on forever.
When Lana and her father return to their seaside town to help clean up after a major storm, Lana discovers a colony of Aquicorns, magical seahorse-like creatures that live in the nearby reef. Lana rescues one and nurses it back to health with the help of her aunt, who appears to know more about these strange creatures than she lets on. When a second storm approached, Lana realizes that choices the town made years ago to protect itself may be endangering the reef. Will Lana be able to find the strength to stand up to for the Aquicorns when it means standing against her own family?
Goldie Vance (vol. 4)
Hope Larson, Jackie Ball, Elle Power, Sarah Stern
When the St. Pascal Rockin’ the Beach Music Festival (and Russian spies!) come to town, Marigold “Goldie” Vance finds herself knee deep in mystery and intrigue — which is just the way she likes it. With it’s fun, period setting and ethnically diverse cast, Eisner-winner Hope Larson’s Goldie Vance is one of the best all-ages comics to come along in forever. The book has already caught Hollywood’s eye — having been optioned for a movie by producers Rashida Jones and Kerry Washington. Give your kid the opportunity to enjoy the books that inspired the movie.
The Mighty Thor: The Death of the Mighty Thor (vol. 5)
Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman
Things are spiraling out of control for the Mighty Thor. The beast Mangog has finally arrived. Will even the power of the War Thor be enough to stop it? The War of the Realms is spreading, plunging countless worlds into chaos. And on top of it all, Jane Foster’s cancer has spread. Is this truly the end of the Mighty Thor? Jason Aarons and Russell Dauterman bring the epic story of the Mighty Thor to its inevitable, tragic conclusion in this final volume of the series.
Persephone always thought of herself as an ordinary girl. She might be the adopted daughter of the famous magician Demeter, but in all other ways she is quite plain. Plagued by nightmares regarding her true lineage, Persephone becomes determined to unravel the secret behind her birth. She embarks on an epic adventure to explore the underworld which leads to unexpected consequences for everyone. This modern retelling of the Greek myth of the goddess Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, by French creator Loic Locatelli-Kournwsky has the charm and grace of a Raina Telgemeier book melded with the gravitas of a Greek legend.
The Prince and the Dressmaker
Prince Sebastian has a secret identity. By night he dons dresses and takes the Parisian nightlife by storm as the daring Lady Crystallia — the toast of the fashion world. Sebastian’s best friends and confident is Frances, a brilliant dressmaker and one of only two people that know about Sebastian’s double-life. But in order to keep her friends secret life secret, Frances must also hide her own talents from the world. Can Frances continue to hide her talent to protect her friend? Should she? Writer/artist Jen Wang tells a fairy tale about bravery and friendship that will resonate with all ages.
Runaways: Find Your Way Home (vol. 1)
Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka
Every few years, Runaways gets new life with a new number one, a new direction and a new creative team. This new incarnation reunites the original team or Nico, Karolina, Molly Chase, Old Lace and the back-from-the-dead Gert. The group of super-powered teens trying to right the wrongs committed by their super-villain parents will resonate with kids and teens today just like it did fifteen years ago when Brian K. Vaughn (Saga, Y: The Last Man) created the team. Writer Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Carry On) and illustrator Kris Anka (All-New X-Men, Captain Marvel) breathe new life into the tried-and-true premise in this back-to-roots reboot of the beloved franchise.
Spectacle (vol. 1)
Megan Rose Gedris
No-nonsense engineer Anna may work as a psychic at the Samson Brothers Circus, but she’s a skeptic at heart. At least she was until her twin sister Kat was murdered and came back to haunt her as a very annoying ghost who insists that Anna help find her killer. With no leads, an entire circus full of strange and secretive characters, and supernatural occurrences popping up with alarming frequency, will Anna ever be able to solve the case? And how can she learn to share a body with her sister when she could barely stand sharing a room with her?
Skyward: My Low-G Life (vol. 1)
Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela
What if gravity suddenly became a fraction of what it is today? That’s what happened twenty years ago in the world of Skyward. Willa Fowler was born shortly after “G-day,” and never knew about a world where people can fly through the air, which is frankly pretty awesome –unless you jump too high and fly off the earth. But when Willa stumbles upon a dangerous plan to bring gravity back, it might just get her killed. Writer Joe Henderson, the showrunner on Fox’s Lucifer and artist Lee Gabbett (Lucifer, Loki: Agent of Asgard) join forces to tell this coming of age story set in a world where the danger is of the utmost gravity — even if the planet isn’t.
Supergirl: Being Super
Mariko Tamaki, Joelle Jones
Being a teenager is hard. Just ask Kara Danvers. On top of dealing with mega-zits and turning 16, she’s also adjusting to life on Earth as a refugee from the doomed planet of Krypton. When her superpowers start kicking in Kara begins to wonder who she can trust when people she considered to be friends turn out to have ulterior motives. Will Kara find a way to fit and and be the hero her adoptive planet needs? This coming-of-age story is expertly told by Caldecott Honor and Eisner Award-winning writer Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer) and Eisner Award-nominated artist Joëlle Jones (Lady Killer).
The Unstoppable Wasp: Agents of G.I.R.L. (vol. 2)
Jeremy Whitley, Elsa Charretier
Jeremy Whitley’s excellent girl-power-centric The Unstoppable Wasp is one of our favorite books. The book calculatedly put together a fantastically ethnically diverse, S.T.E.M.-focused girl genius superteam “Genius In action Research Labs” (G.I.R.L.). I can’t begin to count the number of boxes that checks for us. But it’s not just the messaging that makes this book great. Eternal optimist Nadia is one of the most delightful protagonists you will find anywhere and the gorgeously feminine art provided by French artist Elsa Charretier is revelatory.
X-Men Red: The Hate Machine (vol. 1)
Tom Taylor, Mahmud Asrar
Jean Grey is back and she has put together her own team of X-Men — including Namor, Nightcrawler, the All-New Wolverine and Honey Badger. Grey’s newly formed team is put to the test when a dangerous foe unleashes an engineered virus that amplifies the hatred and xenophobia in men’s hearts to homicidal levels. Can the X-Men save humanity from its own hatred? The ultimate outsiders, the X-Men have always worked best as a way to explore how we can be heroes in the face of bigotry and hatred, and this book smartly leans into those concepts — hard.