Greetings, dedicated readers and library patrons! As 2017 rockets past the halfway mark, now is a good time to check out some of the best comic books and graphic novels of the year so far. Please enjoy the following reviews of some of my top picks for this year’s crop of illustrated marvels and be sure to check out the scroll at the bottom of this article for even more suggestions.

"Saga" by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

"Saga" is the story of Hazel, a child born to star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Though they started as enemy soldiers, moth-winged Alana and ram-horned Marko now only seek a peaceful future for their family far away from the ceaseless violence of their birthplace. News of a child born to mixed parents from opposite sides of the war sparks outrage on across the galaxy. Now Alana, Marko and Hazel must flee from soldiers, mercenaries and investigative reporters as they seek out a safe place to call home. Excellent, insightful writing from veteran Brian K. Vaughan and breathtaking illustrations from Fiona Staples make this a “must read” for any graphic novel fan.

"Black Panther" by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze and Laura Martin

In one of the biggest literary coups of 2016, Marvel Comics somehow convinced National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates to sign on as an ongoing writer for their series, “Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet." When a superhuman terrorist group called The People spark a violent uprising in Wakanda, the most technologically advanced country in the world is thrown into turmoil. If the proud African nation is to survive, they must adapt to changing times but can their king, the last in a long line of Black Panthers, survive the necessary changes? Coates’ writing shows his inexperience in this genre, but rapidly improves throughout. The real star is the illustrations by Brian Stelfreeze, which are gorgeous and captivating. All told, this is well worth a check-out for fans of superheroes and political intrigue.

"Descender" by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

In the far future, highly advanced, artificially intelligent robots play an enormous role in human society as mankind spreads throughout the galaxy. That is, until the fateful day when enormous, continent-sized robots suddenly appear at several highly populated human planets and begin wordlessly destroying all non-robot life. In the wake of this massacre, sentient robots are banned throughout the galaxy and bounty hunters begin hunting down and destroying every robot they can find. Ten years after the giant robots appeared, a small companion robot on a distant mining moon is re-activated from a state of suspended animation. The robot's name is Tim-21, originally designed as a companion for a human boy whose family was stationed on the moon. Unbeknownst to Tim-21, he may hold the key to answering the mystery of who the giant robots are and what they want. Unfortunately, nearly every bounty hunter, soldier and anti-robot activist in the galaxy is after him. With gripping writing from superstar Jeff Lemire and gorgeous, atmospheric watercolor illustrations from Dustin Nguyen, "Descender" is a wonder of creativity and imagination. Check it out today!

That's all for this month, folks. Be sure to check back for more excellent and insightful blogging from your very own Kitsap Regional Library staff!

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