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


Welcome to Showside #1
Z2 Comics/$3.99
Created, written, and art by Ian McGinty.

Showside is the inaugural comic for fledgling publishing company Z2, and they let us know (in a friendly letter on the inside back cover) that they want their “books to be read by anyone, old or young.” A fantastic first release aimed that wide demographic, Showside begins with Kit (a winged demon-like creature) sharing an old wives tale on why weeping willows don’t grow in the seaside town of Showside. (This interlude is illustrated by a different artist, S.M. Vidaurri, adding a nice contrast.) After discussing the story’s validity over waffle tacos, the real adventure begins when Kit and the gang hear about a portal – allowing monsters in from a place they call the “Nexus” – and go off to investigate. What they find there is easily defeated by the wit of Kit and his pals, Moon and Belle, but this is only the start of more to come.

Welcome to Showside is cute, lighthearted, and accessible. Humor abounds in the playful and easy to read dialogue. The oversized lettering and age-appropriate vocabulary ensure few words will require help for the youngest readers. The artwork utilizes large panels to convey the story, and is done in a bright, animated style. There’s even an animated Welcome to Showside short online, and one of the characters in it, Frank, is voiced by none other than Henry Rollins. (It’s a quick and entertaining clip to check out once you’ve finished the issue.)

Ages 8-11


Oddly Normal #10
Image Comics/$2.99
Written and illustrated by Otis Frampton.
Colors by Tracy Bailey.

In this series we follow Oddly Normal, a 10-year-old half-witch navigating a new school, making friends with monster-children, and dealing with bullies and other evil stuffs—all while trying to uncover the mystery of her parents’ disappearance. In this issue, Oddly becomes starstruck when the local superhero Wetboy arrives at her school while no one else seems to be impressed. In history class, a new clue about her mother is shown in an old yearbook brought in by Ragnar. There is also some potential for ominous activity when a sinister-looking student is asked to stay after class for an extra credit project.

I really like the Oddly Normal series for readers of this age.  Themes of fitting in, friendship, loyalty, and honor are smartly interwoven throughout the story without ever coming across as preachy.  The lettering is large and matches up nicely with the artwork, which is colorful and expresses action through its vibrancy.  Also, just a heads up about the series—after issue 10 there will be no more single issues. Instead, the story will continue in collected volumes (volumes one and two are available now), with the newest one coming out in May 2016. Sigh. However, Writer/illustrator Otis Frampton has assured content will be available digitally until then.

Ages 12-15


Lois Lane: Fallout
YA Novel
Switch Press/DC Comics, 2015
By Gwenda Bond.

First in a series of YA novels by Bond about the iconic character in her teen years, we meet Lois as a sixteen-year-old Army brat finding her way as a new Metropolis resident. From the get-go we see her questioning authority with a sass that makes adults shake. She defends a bullied classmate; her gut tells her there’s more to it than just kids being mean, and she’s right: as the story unfolds, she gets a job at The Daily Planet as a writer for their student led paper called the Daily Scoop. And her first idea for an investigative story? Figuring out why the bullies of the school (the Warheads) are so ruthless and robotic.

As much as the story centers on Lois, we also get introduced to her online friend, “SmallvilleGuy” who she chats with daily. However, she knows very little about who actually is. (According to him, it’s just too dangerous for him to reveal it at this point.) Lois also feels more than just friend feelings towards him, but also recognizes that he is just a guy cities away on her screen. I liked the way Bond introduced us to their relationship in the way teens these days interact with one another online. As much as we know this is an important relationship, SmallvilleGuy is a part of her story but not the whole story, which is important, and I appreciated.

Overall, Fallout is a fantastic book, one that I think both teens and adults will enjoy. It’s an easy read and very engaging: I finished the three hundred or so page book in about three days on my work commutes. I’m also happy to inform that this will be extended into a series of novels, in which we get to learn more about Lois in her formative years.

Ages 16+


We Are Robin #5
DC Comics/$3.99
Written by Lee Bermejo.
Art by Jorge Corona.

In issue five, we dig deeper into some back stories of two of our Robins (Izzy and Dre) and learn a little more about why this team was chosen to come together through their meeting with a disguised Alfred.

A fun entry in DC’s extension of Batman comics, We Are Robin centers around a team of Gotham teenagers. This is a great series for older teens wanting a new and compelling twist on the idea of a familiar sidekick. My full review can be read here.

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

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Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike
Image Comics/$9.99
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick.
Art by Emma Rios and colors by Jordie Bellaire.

Full disclosure, I really went back and forth on this one on its appropriateness, due to some language (f-bombs), nudity, and sex (but not a lot—promise!). Then I remembered they’re teens in the year 2015 and felt okay with it. (Kidding… sorta.) Alright, this is definitely a book for 16+. If you allow your kid to watch rated-R movies they will be fine. However, even though there are definitely some less-than-savory acts and language, the story itself is so well done and original you can easily excuse the unpleasantries.

In Pretty Deadly’s first volume, we get the first story arc (issues one through five collected) of this current series. Part melancholy fable and part gritty western, we discover humanity through the main characters: Sissy, Fox, and Deathface Ginny. How they are woven into each other’s lives is mythical and creative, and you easily get wrapped up in the story as each piece of the puzzle starts to fit. And reading it in a collected volume like this makes it much easier for the impatient reader (i.e. me). Each issue seamlessly flows into the next not only through DeConnick’s emotive story, but the dreamy artwork done by Rios and Bellaire. A great and intense read for those into mythos and metaphors—y’know, like those AP English kids of yours who need a break from studying but want to dive into something both substantial and beautiful.

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