Strong Female Protagonist, Books 1 and 2, by Brennan Lee Mulligan, drawn by Molly Ostertag.

 Strong Female Protagonist, Book One, 2014, ISBN  9780692246184 and Book Two, 2018, ISBN 9780692906101, by Brennan Lee Mulligan, drawn by Molly Ostertag. Top Shelf Productions.

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Fantasy/superhero fiction

What did you like about the book? A wonderfully complex main character dominates these engrossing graphic novels. Alison Green has given up her gig as a crime-fighting teen superhero to concentrate on figuring out her life as a young adult. Book One, in black and white, toggles back and forth between her childhood and her new life as a firefighting college student in New York City. She tries to make sense of what it means to be a hero – is it killing all the bad guys one by one, or something bigger and more systemic? Book Two, in glorious full color, continues Alison’s quest for personal meaning, with the reader seeing her engage with classes and former enemies, and there’s a bit of gentle romance. Book Two contains a warning about discussions of sexual assault and how the young superheroes deal with the aftermath of childhood trauma. In all, the books celebrate inclusivity and diversity in their characters, an incredibly thoughtful main character who really wants to do good in the world, very strong female characters, and deeply personal depictions of super heroes struggling to fit in to a society which puts them on a pedestal, but doesn’t yet truly recognize their inherent humanity. Lots of existential discussions dominate Book Two. The art is wonderful and engaging, with varied panel sizes and spreads that perfectly reflect action and emotion, human and “dynamorph” (different forms of sentient creatures) equally well.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Book One had comments from an unnamed narrator at the bottom of each page which were distracting and annoying, but Book Two happily omitted these. Book Two had a few incredibly long philosophical discussions which were hard to follow, but which may deeply resonate with some readers.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Teen and adult audiences who like superhero back stories, especially with deep existential components to the characters and less action than traditional stories in the genre.

Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Teen and/or adult graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, and I think you wouldn’t have to read them in order.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: July 31, 2018

This entry was posted in *Book Review, Comic / Cartoon, Emotional Issues, Fantasy, Graphic novel, Superhero and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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