cover image Leon the Extraordinary (Leon #1)

Leon the Extraordinary (Leon #1)

Jamar Nicholas. Graphix, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-338-74415-6

Superheroes and supervillains alike populate a fictional metropolitan city in this laugh-out-loud graphic novel by debut solo creator Nicholas (Fist Stick Knife Gun). Black fifth grader Leon only wants two things: to get a smartphone, and to be a superhero. Though he has no powers of his own, Leon and his comics enthusiast best friend Carlos, portrayed with brown skin and square specs, use well-crafted zingers and book smarts to contend with bullies at Guillaume Elementary School (“My common sense is tingling,” Leon says during a confrontation with a “jerk face” tormentor). When Leon’s former best friend Clementine, a shape-shifter whose parents are heroes, deploys a cruel prank on Leon, he gets discouraged. But after noticing his classmates obsessing over a mobile video game that’s turning them into zombies, he uses his common-sense skills to save his peers. Full-page spreads of supers fighting giant villainous plants—coupled with Leon’s internal dialogue, which is often presented as flowcharts, putting a meta spin on classic superhero narratives—are rendered in bold, poppy palettes. Nicholas’s innovative tale, brimming with fully fleshed out characters and bombastic battle sequences, is one to revisit again and again. Ages 8–12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Oct.)