Title: Pepper Page Saves the Universe
Creators: Landry Q. Walker & Eric Jones
Colors & Letters: Michael Drake & Parick Brosseau
Release Date: February 16, 2021
Publisher: First Second
GoodReads | Amazon | Macmillan
Pepper Page Saves the Universe! blends science fiction, high school drama, and the feel of classic comic books to take young readers on a thrilling (and surprisingly relatable) journey through time and space. Created by Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones, Pepper Page Saves the Universe is a fun read that kicks off a new series that’s sure to appeal to young readers who love sci-fi graphic novels and, of course, superheroes!
Young orphan Pepper Page lives in a futuristic world where – save for a couple of best friends – she feels completely and utterly alone. Shy and nerdy, she does her best to get by and remain invisible as she navigates the challenges of high school. Her only true solace comes in the form of ‘classic’ superhero comics following the adventures of her heroine, Supernova.
Pepper Page doesn’t really see much of a future for herself and, to be honest, neither do her teachers. Professor Killian, her history teacher, seems to have it out for her in particular. But when Pepper stands up to him on behalf of another (inspired by her hero Supernova!) she finds herself wrapped one of his dangerous experiments and forced into a journey that will reveal her true destiny.
Of course, Pepper Page never expected to have a destiny. And seeing her grapple with the future and the implications of what it means is one of the best parts of this series. Pepper loves Supernova’s comics but when she’s put on the spot and expected to save the universe by embracing own self worth and the cosmic powers that she seems destined to wield her own doubt stands in the way. She has to figure out how to stand up not just for everyone else but herself as well. It’s a lovely journey to self-fulfillment and who doesn’t love when your hero is accompanied by a talking cat sidekick?
Pepper is a very relatable heroine. While most kids reading middle grade and young adult books (and of course graphic novels) probably aren’t being beaned in the head with super futuristic sports equipment by their bullies, many young readers will easily see themselves in Pepper Page. Nerdy and struggling with self-esteem and fitting in, Pepper could have been me in high school!
Pepper Page is a great new hero who takes readers on quite the inspiring journey. And I really expected nothing less from Landry Q. Walker. I was a huge fan of his middle grade series, Project Terra, which also featured a number of strong, female characters. He and Eric Jones really have put together a fun read.
The artwork helps pull together the whole story and I love how Eric Jones managed to capture both Pepper’s futuristic world and the Golden/Silver Age influences of Supernova. From Supernova’s rebooted comic book origins and the many different stories Pepper called on to help her on her way to Pepper Page’s alliterative name, the old school influences were really great.
All in all, I would definitely recommend Pepper Page Saves the Universe for young readers with a love of science fiction and graphic novels. It may not appeal to everyone but readers who love these genres already are really going to find a new heroine to love (and relate to) in Pepper Page! We can’t wait to see where Pepper’s adventures take us next.