If 2017’s biggest blockbusters were any indication, the superhero fever that’s taken hold of the pop culture world doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon. As the classic Marvel vs. DC battle rages on, two new takes on beloved, misfit superheroes just so happen to be hitting shelves on the same day. But we're not taking sides—there’s enough love for all these heroes to go around.
BECOMING THE BAT
Bestselling author Marie Lu (The Young Elites) follows up Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer with her own highly anticipated installment in the DC Icons series—Batman: Nightwalker. In her reimagining of the beloved hero’s origin story, we meet a young Bruce Wayne en route to his 18th birthday party. He’s been carefully groomed by his legal guardian, Alfred (one of the most delightful characters in Lu’s story), to take on the mantle of his late parents’ renowned corporation along with an inheritance that clocks in around a billion dollars.
But despite the polished, confident playboy-image he presents to the press, Bruce is a sensitive and deeply empathetic teen whose social anxiety is more easily triggered than he’d like. His moral ideals are soon challenged by Gotham City’s new gang known as the Nightwalkers, and his newfound independence leads him to make the decision to fight them head-on since the local police can't seem to help. But jumping headfirst into a criminal investigation results in a young Bruce being sent to Arkham Asylum as punishment. There, he comes face-to-face with the kind of criminals he’s hated for so long, but a fellow teen named Madeleine challenges Bruce’s long-held beliefs when she offers to help him shut down the Nightwalkers for good.
Longtime fans won’t find much new terrain explored here, but Lu’s trademark ability to seamlessly incorporate lots of tech and diversity in her fictional worlds serves Batman well. Although nowhere near as dark as Christopher Nolan’s cinematic series, it’s always compelling to see Bruce Wayne’s progression from starry-eyed, privileged punk to brooding caped crusader, and Lu’s novel is no exception.
LIVING ON THE FRINGE
Christopher Golden’s new novel picks up where the original Marvel comic series, which became an instant cult-classic, left off. Hitting shelves just before fellow bestselling YA author Rainbow Rowell takes the reins and brings the comic series back from the brink, fans and newcomers alike will surely want to dive into this accessible new story centered on a ragtag group of orphaned teens. When Golden’s novel kicks off, the Runaways are struggling with their newfound powers and the grief that’s followed the deaths of each one of their parents—a high powered collection of secret supervillains who were known as The Pride. Now searching for solace and peace in LA, Karolina, Chase, Nico, Gert and Molly discover a secret underground base constructed by their families. It seems like the home they’ve been searching for, however fraught with emotional ghosts as it may be, and they’re determined to utilize all of the tech and gadgets in their quest to do good.
Although it may seem like teens with psychic links to dinosaurs, super strength or spellcasting abilities aren’t the most relatable, Golden excels at making their problems (no matter how big or small) and emotions ring true to life. This is an accessible introduction to the characters and a perfect read for fans of Stand by Me and The Breakfast Club—other beloved stories that explore the resilience of the young spirit, the importance of our chosen families and the possibility of growing up without hardening your heart.