DC Comics has announced the latest addition to their line of young adult graphic novels. Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero will introduce a new teenaged superhero with a unique ability to the DC Universe, and set her against some of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals including Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, and The Riddler. The graphic novel is written by E. Lockhart, illustrated by Manuel Preitano, colored by Gabby Metzler, and lettered by Troy Peteri.
Whistle follows the story of sixteen-year-old Willow Zimmerman, a burgeoning social activist tasked with caring for her mother who was recently diagnosed with cancer. After an accident gives her the ability to communicate with a dog named Lebowitz she’s befriended at the shelter where she volunteers, Willow and Lebowitz decide to use their newfound abilities to take on Gotham’s criminals, including her “uncle” Eddie.
In a statement from DC announcing Whistle, Lockhart (the pen name for writer Emily Jenkins), the author of young adult and adult fiction, described how she conceptualized Willow Zimmerman, a character inspired by Lockhart’s own Jewish heritage:
“Whistle is a hero like me. Like you, maybe. She’s an ordinary person who sees what’s wrong in her city and feels powerless to right it—until she isn’t,” said Lockhart. “Whistle is a social activist, a secular Jewish person, and a teenage girl working to support her mother through sickness—all elements I haven’t seen so much in superhero comics. The story explores the dark, ethically compromised side of a superhero’s life as well as the empowerment. There’s the thrill of corruption and the lure of riches on the one hand, versus an activist’s belief in the rights of her community members on the other.”
Preitano, an Italian artist who previously illustrated the DC young adult graphic novel The Oracle Code with writer Marieke Nijkamp, also talked about the experience of working on Whistle with Lockhart to add a new character to the Gotham mythos:
“Designing a new character is always a great challenge,” said Preitano. “Emily and I had great synergy in bringing Willow and her supporting cast to life. I also loved being able to draw so many dogs! I hope readers enjoy discovering Gotham City’s Down River, a new neighborhood we created for this book, and its inhabitants—cute dogs included! I also hope readers enjoy following the adventure of this new heroine, her friends, and the world we created.”
A graphic novel about a superhero who can communicate with a dog sounds like exactly the sort of thing I want to read, and adding some classic DC villains into the mix just sweetens the deal. Check out some preview pages for the forthcoming graphic novel, as well as DC’s full description for the book, below. You can preorder Whistle now, or look for it to arrive in bookstores and comic shops on May 11, 2021.
Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero
Written by E. Lockhart
Illustrated by Manuel Preitano
Colored by Gabby Metzler
Lettered by Troy Peteri
On sale everywhere books are sold on May 11, 2021
From New York Times bestselling author E. Lockhart (Genuine Fraud, We Were Liars) and artist Manuel Preitano (The Oracle Code) comes a new Gotham City superhero in this exciting YA graphic novel.
Sixteen-year-old Willow Zimmerman has something to say. When she’s not on the streets advocating for her community, she’s volunteering at the local pet shelter. She seeks to help all those in need, even the stray dog she’s named Lebowitz that follows her around. But as much as she does for the world around her, she struggles closer to home—taking care of her mother, recently diagnosed with cancer. Her job as an adjunct professor of Jewish studies does not provide adequate health insurance—and Willow can see that time is running out.
When in desperation she reconnects with her estranged “uncle” Edward, he opens the door to an easier life. Through simple jobs, such as hosting his private poker nights with Gotham City’s elites, she is able to keep her family afloat—and afford critical medical treatments for her mother.
Willow’s family life quickly improves through the income provided by these jobs, but it comes at the cost of distancing herself from the people she truly cares about. Her time is now spent on new connections, such as biologist and teacher Pammie Isley. And when Willow and Lebowitz collide with the monstrous Killer Croc outside the local synagogue, they are both injured, only to wake up being able to understand each other. And there are other developments, too…strange ways in which they’ve become stronger together. Willow’s activism kicks into high gear—with these powers, she can really save the world!
But when Willow discovers that Edward and his friends are actually some of Gotham’s most corrupt criminals, she must make a choice: remain loyal to the man who kept her family together, or use her new powers to be a voice for her community.