I’m excited today because I have a guest reviewer! My husband stepped up with a review of the new middle-grade graphic novel Battling Boy by Paul Pope. I was lucky enough to win a giveaway for an ARC of this book hoping that it would be something my son might enjoy (it’s labeled middle-grade and the protagonist is only twelve) but when I saw it I immediately knew it was much too old for him. The art was much darker and more violent than I had expected. I don’t read graphic novels and am not familiar with Paul Pope’s work but I was not comfortable with my son reading this one yet. My husband had no problem jumping in and reading it and then even wrote up a review of it for me. So if you enjoy graphic novels, you should stick around to learn about Battling Boy and find out what my husband thought of it.
Battling Boy (Battling Boy #1) by Paul Pope
Genre: Graphic Novel/ Fantasy
Review Source: ARC won from publisher
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Summary: The adventure begins in the new graphic novel by comics legend Paul Pope.
Monsters roam through Arcopolis, swallowing children into the horrors of their shadowy underworld. Only one man is a match for them – the genius vigilante Haggard West.
Unfortunately, Haggard West is dead.
Arcopolis is desperate, but when its salvation comes in the form of a twelve-year-old demigod, nobody is more surprised than Battling Boy himself.
IT’S TIME TO MEET AN ELECTRIFYING NEW HERO.
When I reflect on Battling Boy, the term that repeatedly comes to mind is “gritty.” The word is an appropriate description of the art style, the world, the characters and the plot. The story is ultimately one about flawed, young heroes attempting to salvage a world overrun by dark and twisted monsters — and this is all wrapped within a bright, yet unpolished style that fits perfectly.
The story is certainly promising. This is the first graphic novel in a series, and we only see glimpses of the total arc to come. Unlike many book series, the story here is not sufficiently self-contained to be entirely worthwhile on its own. What is presented, however, suggests themes of political and moral corruption and coming-of-age stories from both a male and a female perspective.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the story is the “power” of the male protagonist. His source of power will force him to plan his battles strategically, or he will not fare well as the series unfolds. It should be a source of interest and tension throughout the books.
I recommend this comic/graphic novel for readers of paranormal/fantasy books who are open to a different medium, or to comic readers who want to try a comparatively thoughtful plot. Note that the content may not be suitable for particularly young readers.