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Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero by E. Lockhart

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Whistle is the latest YA Graphic novel from DC, and like other books in this run it emphasizes social justice and inclusion. In this book, a Jewish high school student takes care of her mom (who has cancer), works at an animal shelter, attends school, flirts with a cute boy, and participates in protests to try to keep gentrification from erasing her neighborhood of Down River in Gotham City.

Her life changes when she meets E. Nigma and his friend Pammie Isley, and then starts working for E.Nigma. In this capacity she makes big money, but also realizes that E.Nigma is gentrifying her neighborhood and that she is complicit because she works for him.

Will Willow fight for her community? GUESS!


Yes! She will!

I enjoyed this book for daring to show that Willow is not a perfect saint and that E. Nigma and Pammie Isley are charming and genuinely friendly. However, the real draw of this comic is Willow’s bond with Lebowitz, a Great Dane that becomes her loyal sidekick. This is a really fun story for anyone who loves dogs. Although there is a scene in which Willow and Lebowitz are both hurt, they recover with some new and special abilities that lead to hilarity.

The art by Manuel Peitano is bright, active, and realistic, full of city grime but also bright colors and fashion. If Lebowitz will forgive me for saying so, this is a pure catnip book – I’m just never NOT going to love a superhero who rides a skateboard to crime scenes and whistles for backup from all the dogs in town (hence her superhero name, Whistle).


The book is solid fun, which frankly I need more of these days anyway. But I felt that, even for a superhero comic, too many plot points remained dangling. It’s common for superhero stories to end with cliffhangers, but this story felt different. Instead of leaving with a plot cliffhanger, it wrapped up a full origin story character arc except for the most important plot points – Willow struggles to make time for romance and she struggles with having to lie to everyone around her. Also, can you really fight armed, organized criminals by using kickboxing, pepper spray and earnest speeches? I am dubious, and also concerned for the safety of our young crime fighter.

I recommend this as a fun read that tackles some big issues but remains optimistic in tone. I especially recommend it to dog people. We do get to hear Lebowitz’s inner thoughts and they are a treat!

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