By Stefania Rudd. Do you have little ones in your life who are drawn to the world of comics through movies, cartoons, and video games, but you’re not sure what to start them with, or even know what’s appropriate?

We got you! Books For Babes aims to provide info on what books kids will enjoy, but can also be entertaining for adults. One can never start too early — or too late — in building a solid comic book foundation.

Ages 4-7

Mega Princess #1
Boom! Studios/$3.99
Written by Kelly Thompson.
Art by Brianne Drouhard and M. Victoria Robado.
Letters by Warren Montgomery.

From Boom! Studios comes an all-new, child-friendly book by writer Kelly Thompson (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink, Jem and the Holograms) and artistic team Brianne Drouhard and M. Victoria Robado that focuses on a princess named Maxine. (“Max” for short.) Like all princesses on her 10th birthday, Max receives a visit from her spunky fairy godmother, Amber, who bestows upon her special princess powers.

Thing is, Amber is new at this “fairy godmother” gig and goes overboard by giving Max all of the princess powers, thus making her a Mega Princess! However, Max’s true desire isn’t so much to be a princess who can sing with perfect pitch or can feel peas through mattresses, but to become a detective. (Although her new ability to speak to animals is pretty cool.) When her baby brother. Prince Robert (“Bobs” for short) is discovered missing at her party, Max kicks into full detective mode with her frenemy/sidekick pony, Justine. The adventure is just beginning for these two as they dive into the mystery surrounding missing baby Bobs.

Thompson does a great job of establishing a cute story with themes that will be familiar to children in this age bracket, and quite possibly, those who are few years older (and armed with lovely imaginations). Family, obligation, and teamwork are key to this series: Max is snarky and sassy while Justine is honest and headstrong, so this pairing is perfect for children to learn how to interact with others. Drouhard and Robado’s artwork fits nicely with the overall story. It’s also very cool that Max and Bobs are biracial children, which allows for some children to see characters just like themselves in a really fun (and really positive) comic book. Overall, a great first issue.

Ages 8-11

Jim Henson’s Storyteller: Giants #1
Archaia/$3.99
Written by Conor Nolan.
Art by Conor Nolan.
Letters by Warren Montgomery.

If it isn’t obvious enough already, Conor Nolan’s first issue of the series Jim Henson’s Storyteller: Giants is inspired by Jim Henson’s The Storyteller television show. Fans of The Storyteller comic series will be excited to find another run with a new mythical creature as its focus: Giants. Nolan decides to interpret the Japanese fable, “The Peach’s Son,” where a giant is raised among humans, although he is never fully accepted by them due to their fears of his abilities. However, when ogres begin to overrun a neighboring village, the giant must decide whether to meet this challenge head-on, or let the humans’ confused feelings about him dictate his destiny.

Nolan is both writer and artist in this issue and he does a lovely job of putting his vision all together. Using browns, yellows, and peaches in a dreamy, almost ethereal way really bring the concepts of this fable to life. These are stories that may be more obscure than other, more well known fables, but that’s precisely the point. Here are thrilling legends, presented in a very accessible, and very enjoyable, manner.

Ages 12-15

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1
Marvel Comics/$4.99
Written by Kieron Gillen.
Art by Kev Walker.
Colors by Antonio Fabela.
Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.

Meet opportunistic archaeologist, Doctor Aphra (introduced in the Darth Vader series, also written by Kieron Gillen). After escaping Vader’s clutches and believed to be dead, Aphra moves on with her particular set of skills by tracking down lost artifacts in order to help pay off her debts. However, her hopes of a somewhat stable life are dashed pretty quickly once one of her prospective collectors arrives out of the blue, as well as droids Beetee, Triple Zero, and her Wookie “partner,” Black Krrsantan. Opinions are expressed, punches are thrown, followed quickly by a daring escape.

Some readers in this age bracket may be new to Gillen’s work as he tends to write for older teens and adults. However, Doctor Aphra is certainly friendly for younger teens (and of course, Star Wars completists of all ages). Those of us familiar with Gillen’s humor will enjoy seeing how much of it he brings to this series, and those who are new to it will be impressed, engaged, and humbled by his cavalier wit. A fun beginning for a character only known in the comic books, and with Rouge One coming out this week, there’s nothing wrong with a little more Star Wars here and there.

Ages 16+

Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman #1
Dynamite/$3.99
Written by Andy Mangels.
Art by Judit Tondora.
Colors by Michael Bartolo and Stuart Chaifetz.
Letters by Tom Orzechowski and Lois Buhalis.

The first issue in this six issue mini-series pairs up 70s TV icons Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman, and wastes zero time kicking the action into high gear. Writer Andy Mangels takes little jabs at the sexist gender roles that were prevalent during the 1970s: Male agents have no problem ribbing the women (or “girls” as they call them), and Diana does a great job at putting the kibosh on that sort of talk when she reminds the dudes that Jamie (The Bionic Woman) was out saving lives while they sat comfortably in their offices.

Being that both women had their own television shows in the 70s, Mangels does a great job in keeping within those shows’ tones. Although, they never had a crossover episode, this is the next best thing, mainly due to the artwork of Judit Tondora, who utilizes the actors’ facial features and draws them with an almost photographic perfection. It’s artwork that’s very nicely complimented by colorists Michael Bartolo and Stuart Chaifetz. Even if teens and young adults weren’t around for the TV shows, this doesn’t mean they won’t be able to enjoy this comic. It will certainly introduce new audiences to these powerhouse women, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

Throwback Issues
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)

Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History
Roaring Book Press, 2015
Written and illustrated by Don Brown.

“The most famous duel in American history” was brought to even more light recently thanks to a little musical called Hamilton, but prior to that it’s been the subject of books, songs, and even a 90s “Got Milk?” ad. So what better way to teach this historical moment than in a book aimed for kids (and more discerning adults)? Author and illustrator, Don Brown, is no stranger to covering historical works in a way that is easy to understand. In Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History, he tells the story of these Founding Fathers from their upbringings to that fateful day, concluding with what the world was like after.

Although, the writing can be lengthy at times and the words may be difficult to read for a younger child, this would make a good story time book. It’s very well-paced and flows with the information pretty effortlessly. The artwork is simple, but sets the mood of the book. In some ways it’s very watercolor-like, with its sepia tones being contained in black line work to create the shape. I enjoyed this book due to my history nerd tendencies, but for those who can’t afford a Hamilton ticket or want to know more about the “characters” in the show, this book will be a great primer for that education.

That’s it for this week! Has Books For Babes helped you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.

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