The Shadow Threat (House of El, #1)

The Shadow Threat (House of El, #1)
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
January 05, 2021
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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...

Editor review

1 review
thought-provoking and clever sci-fi novel
Overall rating
Writing Style
THE SHADOW THREAT is a fantastic sci-fi graphic novel that follows Krypton as it is nearing its end. Krypton genetically engineers people to fill certain roles, making sure that they have the qualities that will allow them to succeed. As a soldier, Sera is fearless and duty-bound to follow orders. Soldiers around her die everyday on missions from the Tribunes, and they are genetically desensitized to care about all the death, including their own.

Zahn was born to be one of the elite, a ruler, but he has a lot of questions about the way Krypton is run and whether the Tribunes actually have the best interests of the citizens in mind. Seeing the increasingly frequent groundquakes and hearing the voices of sedition, Zahn is questioning what he knows and trying to work for the good of all Krypton - even if the penalty could be banishment to the Phantom Zone or death.

What I loved: The art in this graphic novel is really fantastic with plenty of old comic flair and simple use of color that conveys the emotion of the scenes so well, such as the red in the battle scenes and golds during the trial. It is quite masterfully illustrated, and I felt like we really got a feel for Krypton, the danger, and the questionable morality there. The amount of words to images is perfect, and it is always easy to tell who is talking as well as which are narrative information. The focus is definitely the illustrations, and they really tell a great story.

The story has some really intriguing themes, and I was quite caught up in it all. There are themes about morality, destiny/fate, genetic engineering, and the value of human life. As Sera begins to understand more of the world around her, we really see the problematic treatment of life at different caste levels. The book also raises the questions of ideal qualities in certain job types and why balance matters. In Krypton, people have been bred for one specific role - but does that mean that the qualities selected are exclusively good for the role? These kinds of questions that arise as the reader dives into the story really make this a thought-provoking read.

This is definitely a story I am eager to continue. We all know what happens to Krypton from the original books, but this transports the reader into the lives of individual citizens and their experiences of that time. The parallels that readers may find with connections to our planet today (global warming, dissention, socioeconomic divides) make this an even deeper and provocative read.

Final verdict: THE SHADOW THREAT is an intriguing, thought-provoking, and clever graphic novel that takes us back to Krypton before Superman. Important themes and fantastically crafted illustrations make this a must-read for sci-fi fans.
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