High School. Some say it's the best time of your life. Others might laugh in your face if you say that out loud. Regardless of where you stand, it's a seminal time that pop culture can't get enough of. So this back-to-school season, we’ve compiled some of our favorite comic book series set in high school (and okay, one is set in college) to get you into the school spirit just in time for the beginning of the semester!
Archie by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples
Archie Andrews and his schoolmates have been around in comics for decades, but it’s only very recently that Archie Comics gave them a total revamp. Archie #1 came out in July with high praise from critics and longtime Archie readers. Waid’s solid storytelling and Staples’ always wonderful character designs bring new life to this universe. The first issue is all about Archie’s friends going just a little overboard in helping him get back together with Betty after their bad break-up — there’s a lot of scheming and well-meaning-but-perhaps-misplaced shenanigans. With this reboot just starting up, now is a great time to meet the students of Riverdale High School.
Zodiac Starforce by Kevin Panetta, Paulina Canucheau, Savanna Ganucheau
It’s the standard magical girl team story — high school girls are granted magical scout powers, they fight an evil sorceress, the world is saved. But what do you do after the world is saved? As Gemini and the Zodiac Starforce, Emma and her friends fought the evil Cimmeria when they were freshman. Two years later, Emma is just trying to keep up with schoolwork and wants to forget she ever had her powers. However, when a group of mean girls at school start to act aggressive and emit evil energy, her team has to come back together and save the day … and maybe save their friendships. As the newest book on this list, Zodiac Starforce #1 actually comes out this month.
Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl
What happens when you go to boarding school in Gotham City? Go on ghost hunts, apparently. Gotham Academy features Olive Silverlock, a sophomore dealing with the trauma of a mysterious disaster from over the summer. With the school year starting, she still isn’t sure what’s going on or who she can trust. Things get more complicated with rumors of Millie Jane Cobblepot’s ghost haunting the Academy. With her enthusiastic friend Maps and a few other classmates, Olive must explore their school to get at not only the secrets of the institution but also the city itself. Along the way, their band of paranormal investigators deal with everything from relationships to monsters to detention. And yes, Batman shows up.
Wayward by Jim Zub, Steve Cummings, John Rauch, Tamira Bonvillain, and Marshall Dillon
Being the new girl on the first day of school can be rough — it’s even rougher when you’ve moved to a completely different country. After growing up in Ireland with her dad, teenager Rori Lane comes to Japan to live with her mother. It’s hard enough for her to fit in as the only biracial kid in her class (her red hair sticks out like a sore thumb), but that’s nothing compared to the weird stuff happening to her outside of class. Namely, she’s being attacked by monsters. And she might have magical powers. Rori quickly finds peers in a handful of other young people with powers, but it’s clear what they’ve found is only the tip of the iceberg.
Note: Wayward has some intense moments, including several scenes of violence. Use discretion if buying for younger teens.
Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar
This last recommendation is for post-secondary academics. Going off to college? Getting ready to move back into the dorms? This one is for you! Giant Days tells the story of Daisy, Esther, and Susan, three students who happened to have rooms next to each other in university. Within three weeks, the three girls became best friends. Giant Days tells the story of their time together. The art by Lissa Treiman colors by Whitney Cogar are so delightful, and transform rather normal college adventures into something almost fanciful. The friendships are the core of the story — from fighting heartbreak to fighting campus-wide flu to fighting sexist college bro culture, the friends have each others’ backs. Whether you’re just starting college now or going back for your last year, this is a fun, relatable read.