Published by: DC Comics (January 5, 2021)
Reviewed by: Steve Younis
“House of El: Shadow Threat” is the first book in a new three-part Young Adult series by author Claudia Gray and illustrator Eric Zawadzki.
Welcome to a brand-new vision of one of comics’ most famous tragedies from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray and illustrator Eric Zawadzki. In this first graphic novel in a trilogy, explore Krypton like never before: through the eyes of two teenagers on opposite sides of the same extinction-level event.
Zahn is one of Krypton’s elites: wealthy, privileged, a future leader. Sera is one of Krypton’s soldiers: strong, dedicated, fearless. Their rule-bound society has ordained that their paths should never cross.
But groundquakes are shaking the planet’s surface. Rebellious uprisings are shaking the populace. Krypton’s top scientists – Jor-El and Lara – conduct a secret experiment that is meant to reform their planet from the cellular level up. Zahn and Sera must join forces to investigate the hidden dangers truly threatening Krypton. In the process, they form a bond that will endure past the end of the world…
While this is marketed as a Young Adult graphic novel series (grade level 7-9), “House of El: Shadow Threat” is definitely a story older readers will equally enjoy. It moves at a great pace, covers some pretty mature ideas and concepts, and is by no means a childish read.
Long-time Superman fans will be intrigued by the new characters inserted into and around the story of Krypton’s final days, and the efforts of Jor-El and Lara to make a difference. Centred more on the characters of Zahn and Sera, the story finds these two very different characters on intersecting paths, with themes of political intrigue, nationalism, social hierarchy, and genetic tampering.
The scope of the story is impressive, and the art is rough yet detailed (see the images below). While some of the creature designs aren’t polished, the city landscapes and backgrounds are eye-catching and definitely artist Eric Zawadzki’s strength. I’m looking forward to reading the upcoming chapters to see where these characters are headed. Much like the TV series “Krypton,” we know these characters are ultimately doomed to die when their planet is destroyed, but author Claudia Gray does a great job of making us care for them nevertheless.
“House of El (Book One): Shadow Threat” is available from Amazon.com.