Sort of Super by Eric Gapstur spotlights Wyatt Flynn, an eleven-year-old with superpowers, who has a protective father not willing to let him pursue his dream of being a superhero. Along comes his younger sister Adeline, who encourages him to use his powers unbeknownst to his father, confronting schoolyard problems and shapeshifting alien invaders. It’s a charming little graphic novel for the 8-to-13-year-old reader that packs plenty of action and emotional depth into its narrative.
Gapstur has done work for DC and Image Comics in the past, and his skill as a cartoonist sets this book apart from many of his contemporaries in this genre. Eric has a cartoonish, expressive style that effectively captures the heartwarming, emotional moments while being able to present liveliness during the action scenes. Clearly, Gapstur’s background in superhero comics gives this title an edge when placed next to other young adult graphic novels. His line work has a dynamic quality that is easy to follow from panel to panel, with pleasing coloring to complement the book’s style and purpose.
On its face, Sort of Super may appear to be just another sanitized superhero adventure for the tween crowd, but there is a great deal of emotional purpose present. We learn early on that Wyatt and Adeline’s mother disappeared one night without warning, giving the superheroics a genuine heart: the sense of parental betrayal experienced by many young people. It’s not new for the medium, but this aspect of the narrative demonstrates the loftier resolution in Sort of Super, providing promise for future entries in the series (it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger).
The title is perfectly suitable for young readers between ages 8-13. The book is free from cursing and language not allowed in school and can be safely picked up by parents and librarians. With young readers in my home, I appreciate the structure of the book, breaking the arc into 13 chapters. Recognizing its target audience, the narrative is broken into digestible reading blocks, allowing even my young kids a sense of accomplishment after completing each short chapter.
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