Some people will always think of comic books as being exclusively for kids, however this notion has been challenged in recent years as an increasing number of comics and graphic novels aimed at older audiences have started to appear. While adults are now catered to with offerings such as The Invisibles, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and many others, the teen market has still been somewhat neglected.
However, for those who know where to look there are a number of quality titles on offer. In this article we have put together a list of some of the most critically acclaimed titles available for the teen and young adult market.
Runaways, by Brian K. Vaughan
Part of growing up is coming to the realization that our parents are not infallible, and are flawed human beings like the rest of us. This has been a recurring theme in young adult literature for some time and it is also a prominent feature of a number of the young adult graphic novels. In Runaways that realization plays a central role in the story, in fact it takes it one step further, the protagonist comes to realise that their parents are in fact evil supervillains. The teens run away as a result, later discovering that they have inherited some of their parents’ powers and have to decide what to do with them. It is a classic coming of age story combined with a superhero adventure.
Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan
This quirky adventure tells the tale of a group of badass newspaper delivery girls in the 1980’s. It deftly combines classic science fiction tropes with a dose of 80’s nostalgia. It has been referred to as Nancy Drew does punk and this accurately reflects the overall feel and aesthetic of this unique graphic novel.
For teens who would like to have a go at creating their own comics, the website Rage Maker is an excellent start point.
Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon
The X-Men series has always been one of the most effective vehicles for exploring adult themes within the realm of comic books. The series focuses on the trials and discrimination faced by a group of humans born with genetic mutations which confer them with super powers. Over the course of its history, the series has explored a number of important themes such as discrimination, eugenics, and the difficulty of coming of age while a member of a discriminated community.
As you would expect of a series which has been going for so long and which has produced such a large number of titles during that time, some X-Men titles have been received better than others, while some have been criticised for falling victim to overly dramatic scenes and soap opera tendencies. When the X-Men is done right, and its setting used to its full advantage, as is the case with Astonishing X-Men, the stories it produces are involving and relevant to the reader.
There are now more comic books available than ever before to the teen and young adult markets. The titles on this list are just a small selection of the many excellent titles which are now available.