House of El Book One: The Shadow Threat by Claudia Gray

Unfortunately, the land of Superman is run by a group of leaders with blinders on… They believe that science can solve everything. From genetic engineering to the terraforming of other planets, the Tribunal thinks that they have achieved perfection, but in reality people are limited by their specialization and planets are just not reacting well to their efforts to turn them into livable environments. I haven’t even mentioned the groundquakes the government denies are even happening. Life on Krypton isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

The caste system has created a narrow bands of workers, soldiers, and elites. Each are suppose to enjoy their role in accomplishing the leaders’ goals. Yet, there is a firm resistance who have the ear of a couple people in the high-caste. Most specifically Jor-El and his wife Lara (future parents of Superman) who have teamed up with a low-caste soldier named Sera and a group of her friends to investigate what really lies behind this “perfection.”

I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to Krypton, and although I am not very well versed in Superman lore, I was able to jump right into this graphic novel. Grey spends enough time with each character to give them the appreciation the reader needs to really care about them. It’s important to point out that The Shadow Threat is Book One in a trilogy, which increased my interest. I like the idea of a longer story that I can really sink my teeth into. There are times reading graphic novels that I feel rushed through a story. At 150-200 pages, I can rip through one in a couple hours and sometimes I too quickly forget the story.

The only part of the book I couldn’t fully get behind is the artwork. I was hoping for a more modern look, yet I found a strong connection the style of the Silver Age of comic books. (I am no expert at all. This is only a gut reaction from reading my father’s old stack of DCs.) I did like the color palette and how it ties into the caste system. Golds and greens for the upper class and greys and browns for the lowly soldiers.

Overall, this is a mixed review, but one where the positives outweigh the negatives. This is a very good title for YA readers and a series that I would recommend for any of my students who are superhero fans.

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, DC Comics, the author and the illustrator for an advanced copy for review.

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