Katie's Korner: Graphic Novel Reviews for Schools and Libraries

Published by: The Hero Initiative
Written by: Various
Illustrated by: Various


The Hero Initiative’s ultimate goal is “helping comic creators in need.” Bigger than that, however, The Hero Initiative also publishes artistic expressions to help the larger world better understand historical events and times.

Dean Haspiel explains the primary goals for PANDEMIX: QUARANTINE COMICS IN THE AGE OF ‘RONA in the Introduction:


                        When COVID-19 sparked a global pandemic and national quarantines in March,  

                        killing family, friends, neighbors, heroes, and acquaintances, I worried about my

                        creative colleagues and fellow cartoonists. Many of us lost freelance work, and

                        the comic book industry shuttered for a while. We lost our main source of income

                        and quickly learned how fragile our careers were. We started to lose our minds.    

                        Our will to create. I wanted to do something to help.


                        Thus was born PANDEMIX. 




Supply Chain Superhero by Josh Neufeld

Topic: COVID-19 Workers Behind the Scenes

Lesson Idea: Ask students to think of various jobs and employees that must continue to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Next, ask students to do some research on what employees at these jobs have had to add/subtract from their daily working duties due to COVID-19.

It’ll be Alright by Marguerite Dabaie

Topic: What happened to the author and her life when COVID-19 hit in Brooklyn, NY.

Lesson Idea: Ask students to research the initial devastating impact of COVID-19 in Brooklyn and some stories from others who survived.

The Storm by Peter Rostovsky

Topic Quote: “The thing about quarantine no one tells you is the odd cauldron of emotions involved.”

Lesson Idea: Have students keep a journal about their own feelings about COVID-19.

The “New Normal” by Joan Reilly

Topic: This comic discusses some of the setbacks she has experienced during COVID-19. But, and even more importantly, the author shares some silver linings / positive developments she noticed in her own life despite COVID-19.


Lesson Idea: Tell students to take out a sheet of paper and write down their own list of unexpected positive outcomes from COVID-19.

’Rona Routine by N Steven Harris and Frank Reynoso

Topic: The authors and illustrators redefine how their daily routines have changed due to COVID-19.

Lesson Idea: Give students a blank daily / weekly routine handout and ask them to fill out what they do each day / week. After a predetermined amount of time, ask students to reflect on what has changed about their daily / weekly routines post COVID.

Skin Hunger by Kristen Radtke

Topic: The author / illustrator of this comic focuses on “Skin Hunger,” what psychologists “call our longing form human touch.”

Lesson Idea: Have students research "Skin Hunger,” and ask them to write a reflection about why they think Skin Hunger has surfaced as a major issue during COVID-19.

My Pandemic Boyfriends! by Whitney Matheson

Topic: The author uses her words and her art to name various items she is spending time with / thinking during COVID.

Lesson Idea: Ask students to think of some creative new names they think about / encounter in their daily lives.

 Protection by Morgan Pielli 

Topic: This comic centers on one couple’s love and how they protect themselves and their relationship by staying apart and wearing COVID protection while meeting in person.

Lesson Idea: Ask students to write out a socially protective plan that keeps them in touch with their friends and families and provides plans for both: 1. Prolonged social distanced communication, and 2. Safety protocol for rare and small in-person meetings.

Plague Fashion by Dave Pooch

Topic: This comic highlights historical pandemics and the fashion that resulted at the time.

Lesson Idea: Tell students they can either write or draw what they feel is their COVID-19 fashion.

Pandemic Journal by Jen Ferguson

Topic: With both art and words, this comic highlights the creator’s journaling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lesson Idea: Ask students to keep at least two - three weekly journal entries that both visually and verbally express what they are thinking about during the pandemic.

Why We Are All Doomed by J.J. Cologrande and George O’Connor

Topic: This comic focuses on the importance of wearing a mask at all times, and especially when in public.

Lesson Idea: Encourage students to find scientific studies / articles that discuss the benefits of wearing a mask during COVID-19.

One (COVID) Day at a Time by Ellen Lindner

Topic: This comic invites readers into the creator’s personal life. The comic creates a bridge between familial advice and other sources of advice during challenging times, especially during COVID-19.

Lesson Idea: Ask students to share the best piece of advice they tend to follow to help themselves feel better, especially during COVID-19. Create a resource sheet of all the advice and give it to students to post somewhere they will see each day.

Iterations of the Apocalypse by Jeffrey Burandt and Christa Cassano

Topic: With a gentle comic lover’s nod to DC’s Y: The Last Man, this comic focuses on how one man filled his grocery cart and thought about the dangers of being on the streets and the protection of his wife and daughter at home.

Lesson Idea: Students should create a prioritized grocery list for their families. The list should include all family members names and what each person would need most.

The Currency or Community by Dean Haspiel

Topic: When a local masked crusader starts delivering groceries for his favorite neighbor he gets an unexpected surprise lesson.

Lesson Idea: Ask students to think about someone they would be able to help during COVID-19. Students can write a proposal and offer to help the person of their choice.

Quarantine Age Dream by Owen Brozman

Topic: During a dream, this comic highlights how the streets used to look before COVID-19 and what the dreamer fears they may look like after COVID-19 takes its entire toll.

Lesson Idea: Ask students to draw or write out what they think the streets of their neighborhood might look like after COVID-19 takes its toll.



Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Gene Luen Yang 
Illustrated by: Gurihiru
ISBN:  9781779504210
Ages: 13+


Right from the start of Superman Smashes the Klan, Superman is needed to save the day!  It’s 1946 and the Atom Man (embedded with a green, extraterrestrial crystal) has landed near the Metropolis Dam. Sensing trouble and always ready to help, Superman arrives on the seen to defeat the Atom Man. What Superman does not realize is that the green crystal recovered from the Atom Man’s suit is thought to be extraterrestrial. What Superman does know is that it has a smell he cannot stand.

Not quite ready to reveal all of his powers to Metropolis in 1946, Superman befriends the Lee family. Dr. Lee has a new job at the Metropolis Department of Health and has just moved his family from Chinatown to Metropolis. But not everyone is happy about the move. Roberta Lee is a bit nervous because she is shy and often nervous about making new friends. Tommy Lee is excited to be in the big city and hopefully play with the local Unity House Baseball team.

When the Klan of the Fiery Kross plans and executes a cross burning on the Lee’s front lawn soon after they move in, both Inspector Henderson and Superman feel an allegiance to the family. Remember, it’s 1946 and even Superman still feels like he doesn’t quite belong, yet to reveal al of his powers to the world yet. Inspector Henderson is an African American, and he and his friends have been harassed and threatened by the local Klan of the Fiery Kross too. 

With Superman and Inspector Henderson ready to help, Roberta and Tommy become more involved in the story as well. Tommy’s trying really hard to fit in and make the Unity House baseball team, but the team has a link to the Klan of the Fiery Kross. Roberta is longing to belong and make friends, but she gets a little nervous-nauseous when doing so. While the kids keep reporting to Superman on how the Klan of the Fiery Kross keeps pursuing them, isolating, and even kidnap Tommy the danger starts to become more aggressive and determined.


Language Arts Elements of Story


Plot: When the Lee family moves from Chinatown to her father’s new job at Metropolis’ Health Department, the family has to adapt to their new city. But it’s not that simple. The family is attacked by the Klan of the Fiery Kross, and Metropolis’ Inspector Henderson and Superman are on the job.

Settings: The Metropolis Dam 1946, Metropolis, Lee Household, Metropolis Department of Health, The Daily Planet, Unity House, Smallville, Kansas (1926), Clark Kent’s Home, Metropolis Hospital, Metro Cafe

Key Characters: Atom Man, Lois Lane, Superman / Clark Kent, Inspector Henderson, Lan-Shin Lee / Roberta Lee, Tommy Lee, Dr. Lee, Mrs. Lee, Perry White, Dr. Segret Wilson, Dr. William Jennings, Vivian & Harriet, Chuck Riggs, Uncle Matt (The Grand Scorpion), The Klan of the Fiery Kross, Kyle and Kenny Braverman, Jonathan and Martha Wayne, Lana Lang, Reverend Leeds, Rabbi Stone, Father Shain, The Mighty Samsun, The Grand Imperial Mogul

Major Themes: Social Justice, Historical Lessons & Growth, Sense of Belonging, Identity, Comic Book & Superhero History

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards for Young Adult Readers 

Key Ideas & Details


Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

*  The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.corestandards.com

Lesson Plan

Directions: Ask students to fill out the below “Key Verbal-Visual Elements of Graphic Novel Storytelling” graphic organizer. Both verbal expressions and visual expressions of understanding will demonstrate that the student can analyze what the text says both explicitly and through inferences in order to tell a fully complete literary story with main plot, characters, themes, and settings.


3 Verbal Quotes to Support the Plot’s Main Ideas









3 Visual Examples to Support the Plot’s Main Ideas










3 Verbal Quotes to Support Key Characters







3 Visual Examples to Support Key Characters








3 Verbal Quotes to Support the Main Themes









3 Visual Examples to Support Main Themes










3 Verbal Quotes to Support the Settings Main Locations









3 Visual Examples to Support the Settings Main Locations














Dr. Katie Monnin is the author of eight books about teaching pop culture, comic books, and graphic novels in 21st century classrooms. Since 2010 she has written two monthly reviews and two corresponding lesson plans for her Diamond Bookshelf column: "Katie's Korner: Graphic Novel Reviews for Schools & Libraries." In 2018, Dr. Monnin founded "Why so serious? Productions," a consulting business that creates pedagogical materials for 21st century teachers, librarians, and publishers who want to teach pop culture. She served on the San Diego Comic Con jury in 2013, and she frequently travels the nation and the world to discuss teaching with pop culture in 21st century classrooms.