Advance Review: Battling Boy Volume 1

 

One of the most anticipated comics in recent memory, the first volume of Paul Pope’s long-delayed Battling Boy,  is finally here. Is it worth the long wait? Read on to find out.

Here’s the official description from First Second:

The adventure begins in this new graphic novel by comics legend Paul Pope.

Monsters roam through Acropolis, swallowing children in the horrors of their shadowy underworld. Only one man is match for them—the genius vigilante Haggard West. Unfortunately Haggard West is dead.

Acropolis is desperate, but when its salvation comes in the form of a twelve-year-old demigod, nobody is more surprised than Battling Boy himself.

 

Battling Boy is a fascinating mixture of Jack Kirby’s New Gods and Kamandi set in a decimated post-apocalyptic world overrun with ghouls, demons, and car-eating monsters. Our young hero, a twelve-year old new god, so to speak, is sent on a rite of passage journey by his Thor-like father to rid Acropolis of monsters. As his journey continues, Battling Boy gradually learns to rely less on his father and more on his own wits to survive. He learns that not all problems can be solved with violence and that you can’t save the world all by yourself.

A second story line features the young heroine Aurora, a super heroine in training, who follows in her deceased father’s footsteps (see Death of Haggard West), wearing his Rocketeer-like jetpack and laser guns. She manages to come to Battling Boy’s rescue just in the nick of time, bringing the two story lines together and nicely setting up the second volume, which unfortunately won’t be released until 2014.

Although Paul Pope’s story is written for young adults, like the best YA fiction (Harry Potter, Hunger Games) there is a universal element to his writing, which makes it enjoyable for everyone.  Pope has managed to create a new mythology for this generation of kids, which harkens back to Kirby’s DC work, silver age Marvel, and yet manages to be modern and fresh.

I’ve read most of Pope’s work and Battling Boy features his best artwork.  Although I love Pope in black and white, to see him in color is truly mesmerizing. Each color pops off the page.  His bold line is kinetic as if it was infused with electricity. Although I can clearly trace his work on Battling Boy back to his earlier DC titles, especially DC Solo and Batman: Year 100, there is something new and exciting at work here.

Paul Pope’s Battling Boy is not only his magnum opus but also the best graphic novel released this year. It’s guaranteed to fascinate both children and the twelve-year old in us all who never stops yearning for excitement and adventure.

5/5

 

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