Graphic Novel Reviews: Batman: Overdrive and Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed.
Posted on November 26, 2020 at 11:00 am by Gene Ambaum
Batman: Overdrive by Shea Fontana, illustrated by Marcelo Di Chiara. DC Comics, 2020. 9781401283568. 336pp. Part of the DC Graphic Novels for Kids line.
Fifteen-year-old Bruce Wayne is learning martial arts, sneaking out of his house to try his hand as a hoodied vigilante, and trying to solve his parents’ murder. Out to find parts to restore a muscle car that belonged to his father, he meets Mateo Diaz, and the pair end up chasing a familiar cat burglar stealing from Diaz’s uncle’s scrapyard. It’s not too long before Diaz and Selena Kyle are helping Bruce work on the car, and then helping him go up against Gotham City’s Falcone crime family. There’s a bit of romance, and a lot more teen angst than I’ve seen in most books “for kids” but this is enjoyable. (Maybe DC needs a branded line of tween graphic novels?)
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson, Illustrated by Leila Del Duca. DC Comics, 2020. 9781401286453. 186pp. Part of the DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults line.
Diana is the only teen on Themyscira where the Amazons wait behind a barrier, invisible until they’re needed to defeat the Great Evil when it returns. She longs to be a powerful, good Amazon and a great warrior, but her body is strange and she’s given to bouts of weakness. When there are signs of trouble in the outside world, she tries and fails to convince her mother that the Amazons should help. Then refugees start to wash up on Themyscira’s shore, and only Diana rushes into the water to save them, after which she finds herself stuck in our world and unable to return home.
For a time she lives a refugee camp in Greece. After her abilities as a translator become apparent, she gets out of the camp with the help of Steve Chang and his husband, Trevor, who eventually bring her to the US. The fact that she’s new to our world leads to both humor and alarm, and allows her to question confusing examples of inequality and racism that she encounters. The book is super obvious in its social justice focus, and Diana even goes up against child traffickers, but it’s a good read — the story of a teenage Wonder Woman far from home, standing up for what’s right will doubtless appeal to older kids and younger teens, and it’s the kind of book we want them to find on library shelves.
Both books leave me confused as to the difference between the labeling of DC’s Young Adults and Kids lines, respectively. But kids will ignore that, so perhaps we librarians all should, too?