Scattered with references to comic-book creators throughout history and inhabited by original superheroes with names like Phantom Ranger and Zilch, it’s clear that Bell knows his super-lore backwards and forwards. What bodes well for the new Amazing Adventures of Nate Banks series is that he’s also well acquainted with the internal life of your average sixth-grade comics fan. It’s wish fulfillment in spades, as the small town of Kanigher Falls gets its first superhero in the form of white-and-purple clad Ultraviolet, who Nate Banks just knows is really his history teacher, Ms. Meadows. The trick is proving it, of course, and as Nate follows the evidence into an unexpected and sinister plot, Bell imparts a lesson about genuine courage and responsibility with little pedantry but lots of panache. He also offers up the unique and convincing character of a slightly melancholy and ambivalent superhero who manages to be vulnerable at the same time that she’s invulnerable, right up to a slam bang, cinematic climax. Includes a short comic book for extra zing. Grades 4-6. --Jesse Karp
About the Author
Jake Bell has worked as a TV sports anchor, a radio disc jockey, an amusement park bathroom cleaner, and a magician. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his two kids.