cover image The Shadow Threat (House of El #1)

The Shadow Threat (House of El #1)

Claudia Gray, illus. by Eric Zawadzki. DC Comics, $16.99 paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-4012-9112-9

Creating a political backdrop rife with nationalism, science eschewers, and manufactured social hierarchy, Gray (the Constellation series), in her graphic novel debut, weaves a tepid story, the first in three parts leading toward Krypton’s famous destruction. Krypton, a civilization that has “achieved perfection,” with “the best soldiers, the best scientists, the best leaders,” uses propaganda and force to keep the public docile and obedient. Sera, a low-ranking foot soldier praised for her leadership, and Zahn, a high-ranking official-to-be, separately begin to recognize Krypton’s leaders’ lies and deflections. Sera achieves clarity by working with scientists who become Superman’s parents, while Zahn recognizes the truth in work with a militant dissident group that wants to overthrow Krypton’s government to save the planet. The story’s momentum comes primarily from its build to an inevitable conclusion, and Sera and Zahn’s goals will be familiar to readers of YA dystopian fiction. In contrasting cool and warm color palettes, artist Zawadzki and colorist Dee Cunniffe summon fittingly mechanical landscapes that emphasize the society’s hollow, synthetic atmosphere. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)