Superheroes are quite popular these days. With the big ticket movies and video games, most people are familiar with a lot of the major superhero brands. But, what if you’re tired of the Avengers and the Justice League? There are lots of other great superheroes to read about!
Here are a few great superhero (or villian!) focused books to try out – for kids, teens and adults.
Superhero Early and Middle Grade Readers
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
While I’ve only read the first book in this series (the sixth book was recently released), I love the concept and am eager to read the rest of them. These are illustrated chapter books for early readers. The stories focus on Princess Marigold, who has to be a good princess who attends tea parties in dresses, until the monster alarm goes off and she hurries off to become the Princess in Black and fight them off. Shannon Hale is quite vocal on Twitter about how her books are for all kids of all genders. And the parents who review these books are pretty enthusiastic about how their sons love these stories just as much as the girls do. Last year, The Princess in Black was featured as one of my beautiful books. See that blog post here.
Super Life of Ben Braver by Marcus Emerson
This middle grade book is about Ben, an ordinary kid who somehow ends up at a secret school for kids with superpowers. He’s always dreamed of being a superhero and this might just be his chance. As you would expect, as soon as Ben arrives, problems arise. I reviewed this book earlier this year. See my review here.
Superhero Graphic Novels
Secondhand Heroes (series) by Justin LaRocca Hansen
This graphic novel series was hand-drawn and water-coloured by the author. The story is perfect for kids too. It centers around two brothers who get magical powers from objects their mom found at a yard sale. A magical umbrella and magical scarf help them become Brella and Stretch. With their newfound powers, the boys have to team up to defeat Trench, a villian who is trying to take over their town. I reviewed the third and final book in this series last May. See my review here.
Ms. Marvel (series) by G. Willow Wilson
This recent relaunch of the Ms. Marvel franchise is so so so good. It’s diverse, it’s gritty, it’s sweet. In this rendition of the character, Kamala Khan, a Muslim-American girl becomes the new Ms. Marvel. Not sure what to do with her newfound powers and how to reconcile them with her already fractured life of trying to be both a traditional girl for her parents and fit in at school and be true to herself. I love this series. While this one is part of the Marvel Universe and includes some of the other more well-known characters, Ms. Marvel (especially a diverse one!) is much lesser known and a fun way to get into the comics world of Marvel.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Okay, this one is more about villains than superheroes. Nimona is a young shapeshifter who teams up with another villain to prove that the superheroes that everyone loves aren’t the good guys everyone thinks they are. Hilarious, snarky, and gorgeous, I loved this book.
Superhero YA Novels
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
This is another book about both superheroes and villains. The Renegades are the superheroes who’ve saved society. Nova has reason to hate them…so when she goes undercover as a Renegade to figure out how to take them down she meets Adrian…and she’s not quite sure where her allegiance should be. I loved this book and can’t wait for the second book in the series, Archenemies to come out November 6, 2018.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
Another lesser-known character in the Marvel Universe, Doreen Green has a squirrel tale. She’s part girl, part squirrel. And she is a sweetheart. She starts out as a neighbourhood superhero, saving the streets from troublemakers. And then, a real life super-villain comes to town. See my book review of Squirrel Meets World here.
Funny Superhero Novels for Adults
What They Did to Princess Paragon by Robert Rodi
I haven’t read this one yet, but it looks like a good read. Cartoonist Brian is given the job of revising classic superhero Princess Paragon. So, he decides to update her costume and get her out of the closet as a lesbian. One super fan is so totally not okay with this. So he goes out to meet Brian and make his status clear. Hilarity apparently ensues. This book is pure satire and I’m intrigued to see what it’s like. Reviews online seem favourable.
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
This is another book that is on my TBR. Doctor Impossible is finally out of prison and this super villain is ready to reshape his reputation and take down the do-gooder superheroes. Reviewers have said it is written in the style of comic books, that the narrative flips between the villain and a newbie superhero who has just joined the team of Doctor Impossible’s archenemies. I’ve been told it’s funny, and I’m eager to find out if that’s true.
Dark Superhero Novels for Adults
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Villains and superheroes seem to go together and this book is definitely about villains. V.E. Schwab (also Victoria Schwab) has been on my TBR for ages and this book is right there at the top. It is one of her earlier novels and is about two college roommates, Eli and Victor who discover they have extraordinary abilities. Something goes wrong, though and Victor ends up in prison. When he breaks out, he’s determined to get revenge on his former friend. That friend, however, is no hero either. Eli has been on a quest to eliminate all other people who have superheroes. What and who will be left by the end?
Devil’s Cape by Rob Rogers
This one sounds so unique. Pirates, carnival freaks, crime. This book is not your usual superhero read. From the reviews I’ve seen, it’s really dark and really different. The city of Devil’s Cape, Louisiana was founded by pirates to be a haven for their crime-ridden ways. Now, someone needs to step in and protect the city as things get worse than they’ve ever been. Told in alternating past and present, this book promises to be an intense read.
What are your favourite superhero books?