From Check Please To Hawkeye: 5 Graphic Novels You Should Definitely Read

In college, a professor once saw me reading a graphic novel during off-hours from class. “Enjoy your picture book,” he said earnestly. Excuse me?  First of all, I was reading Y: The Last Man so, of course, I was going to enjoy it. Second of all, “picture book”?? Graphic novels sometimes get put down but in the past decade, they’ve often been the source material for hit TV series and movies. The reverse is also true. Excellent shows like Firefly have continued to tell their story in graphic novels long after they were off the air. Whether you’re a newbie or a long-time fan, here are five graphic novel recommendations (in no particular order).

1. On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

Do not be put off by the 500+ page count. The story may feel like it’s pulling you in slowly but within the first 50 pages, you’ll be completely enthralled and then you won’t want to put it down. I devoured the entire book in two days. Main character Mia’s story is told in parallel plots. One takes place while she’s in high school, the other five years in the future where she’s the newest member of an galactic construction crew. Both plots are rich, beautifully illustrated, and carefully laid out. The moments when they blend together are stunning. You’ll get swept off into space as Mia travels to the end of the universe to rediscover a lost love.

2. Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Unless you never go on Tumblr, chances are you’ve heard of the webcomic Check, Please! or at least seen a few panels. Ngozi Ukazu’s delightful story about college, hockey, love, and pies is addicting in all the best ways. It’s sweet and hilarious and you will be rooting for Eric “Bitty” Bittle within the first ten pages because he’s an adorable sugarlump who deserves all good things. And the story isn’t limited to just the pages of the comic. There are a ton of extras like tweets and notes that are very helpfully included in this book.


3. Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer

I had no idea what to expect when I picked this up. The cover looked fun and cool and then there was this line on the back cover: “For this ragtag band of space gays, liberation means beating the patriarchy at its own game.” Sign me up! There are princesses, gladiators fighting in space jousts, friends longing to find one another, and charming characters like Pan, our heroine, at every turn. Everything was a pure delight. The art is so colorful and dynamic. I want Noelle Stevenson to turn this into an animated series after she’s finished with She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.


4. Hawkeye Omnibus by Matt Fraction

There is no better way to prepare for the upcoming Hawkeye series on Disney+. This is the Hawkeye we should have gotten in the MCU. He’s surly, he’s funny, he befriends the dog of a bad guy and ends up adopting that dog. This Hawkeye is also a spy and we get to see that in action, not just hinted at. Plus, there’s Kate Bishop, who is an absolute badass and stands for absolutely zero of Clint’s complaining. She’s more than worthy of the Hawkeye name and mantle. If you want a sneak peek at what may be in store on Disney+, this is your best shot.


5. Firefly: Legacy Edition Book One by Joss Whedon & Zack Whedon

Okay, so the stories here aren’t exactly new. They’ve been out in their own books before. But it’s very satisfying to have them all together. If you’ve ever wondered about Shepherd Book’s mysterious past, here are the answers. If you’ve been curious about how a pregnant Zoe moves forward (and still kicks ass) after Wash’s death, that’s here too. And if you want to know what happened between the end of the series and the start of Serenity, here’s your chance. Then get ready to watch the series all over again because this collection will make you miss it.

Stephanie Coats