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Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero: 05/17/22
Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero by E. Lockhart and Manuel Preitano (Illustrator) follows Willow Zimmerman, a high school student who ends up working for Enigma to pay for her mother's cancer treatments. The book continues the recent trend in the YA graphic novels of exploring the economic disparities of Gotham city.
Willow Zimmerman loves her neighborhood and is already an activist. She works long hours at the local animal shelter to help cover living expenses. All her time goes towards helping with bills, trying to make her neighborhood a better place, and trying to save the environment.
In the background, someone is "greening" the neighborhood landmarks. Anyone familiar with DC characters will recognize Poison Ivy's work. Given recent incarnations of her, it seems odd to me that Poison Ivy would be attacking a neighborhood struggling to survive. Her usual targets are corporations and the one percent who owns them.
And then there's Enigma, who Willow and her mother know as a long time (but estranged) family friend. He's an interesting addition because he's not one of the typical characters, especially for these graphic novels. I'm not sure I've ever seen him as his alternate personality before.
That said, watching Enigma manipulate Willow was both frustrating and predictable. He gaslights her into a life of crime and sweetens the deal with the sort of pay she will never get working at the animal shelter. There's a line midway through the novel where Willow mentions getting herself and her mother onto health insurance. While she probably means that she's able to pay for it out of pocket, I'd like to believe that Enigma is ethical enough to offer health insurance to his employees because it would make him a more interesting villain.
Finally, Whisper is one of the unusual graphic novels from this series because it shows Willow getting her superpowers (the ability to communicate with a particular dog and to call other dogs). She gets these powers about two-thirds of the way through, leaving the final third of the novel to explore how Willow tries to find a balance between her new calling (being a hero) and the lure of Enigma's financial support.