This review is not for the youngest reader who will pick up and read this book. He or she will do that regardless of what you or I say about it, because comics should be like that. They should be adopted by the readers themselves, away from the grown-ups, and that is the way of things. These books are for them. So I’m writing this for fellow parents and uncles and aunts and grandparents out there who have grown up with great comics around them, who have probably recognized that great comics for kids are now being released few and far between. To them, I want to wholeheartedly recommend picking this book up for their younger family members, and of course, for themselves.
Battling Boy (excerpt here) by Paul Pope is the story of a twelve-year-old demigod sent to Arcopolis, a city infested with monsters. As a rite of passage, his father tasks him with helping the people of the city. On this journey, he fights giant monsters, faces the weight of his responsibilities, learns to control his considerable powers, and even begins seeing the inner workings of political systems. His first adventure, to protect the people of Arcopolis, is his first step in learning to become an all-powerful demigod like his parents before him.
Battling Boy is a great comic book for young readers. It is optimistic about our future, and respectful to our deep bonds with generations that come before and after us. At its heart, the story is about the passing of the torch between those generations and the difficulties of getting through that process. Along with all these great ingredients, Pope mixes in his signature brand of high-octane thrills, using his visceral style to express action, momentum, and velocity in a way that is often seen only in comics from Japan. Stylistically and thematically, Pope is bringing together influences from as far back as he can reach and as far forward as he can push, from the far east to the west. It is my favorite thing that Paul Pope has ever done, and I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time.
My favorite part of Battling Boy? Knowing that the journey is only beginning.
Read an excerpt of Battling Boy here on Tor.com!
Battling Boy is available October 8th from First Second.
Kazu Kibuishi is the writer and artist of the New York Times Bestselling Amulet graphic novel series, published by Scholastic. He is also the editor/art director/cover artist of the Explorer and Flight Comic Anthologies. His debut graphic novel, Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, won a YALSA Best Books for Young Adults Award.