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SMASH: Trial by Fire Hardcover – September 10, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 3-6–A graphic novel about a pint-size kid taking over for his superhero idol, Smash is an action-packed crowd-pleaser. Fifth-grader Andrew Ryan is obsessed with local superhero The Defender. When he is killed in a freak accident, his powers are transferred to Andrew, who must adapt to his new heroic persona, dubbed “Smash.” He quickly learns that fighting crime isn't easy. In the concluding showdown with supervillain The Magus, Smash narrowly escapes to fight another day–but so does Magus. The final panel indicates more adventures to come. Andrew doesn't go through a miraculous transition from zero to hero–he has no idea how to harness his new powers. His missteps add humor to the mix and allow young readers to put themselves in the 10-year-old's shoes. The full-color artwork is full of kinetic energy. Action sequences are rendered with a cinematic feel, heightening every punch, explosion, and impact. Smash pays homage to the genre while adding tweaks that make it all feel fresh. This is sure to be a draw for superhero fans and reluctant readers alike.–Travis Jonker, Wayland Union Schools, MIα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Andrew is an ordinary kid who tries to avoid the school bullies, puts up with his annoying older brother, and dreams of meeting his superhero idol, Defender. When Defender is killed in a mysterious blast of power, his abilities are somehow transferred to Andrew. But being a superhero is more than just running fast and not throwing up while flying, and Andrew needs to learn quickly before Defender’s archenemy gets any closer.Though the Boltons don’t try to break any new ground here, they do add some much-needed realism—Andrew has a fear of heights (which makes flying complicated); his brother alternates between bullying Andrew and worrying about him; and the local police have trouble accepting a child as a superhero. Kyle Bolton’s cartoonish art recalls Frank Cammuso’s (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, 2013), but it has a refreshingly everyday color palette. There is violence (it’s a superhero story, after all), but it is appropriate for the intended audience, and the ending leaves plenty of stories to tell in subsequent volumes. Grades 5-8. --Snow Wildsmith
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 340L (What's this?)
  • Series: Smash
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1st edition (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763655961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763655969
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #788,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris A. Bolton has written comics, short stories, stage plays, sketch comedy, and screenplays. He wrote and directed several short films and an acclaimed web series called "Wage Slaves." His first published book is the all-ages graphic novel SMASH: TRIAL BY FIRE (Candlewick Press, 2013), illustrated by his brother, Kyle. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he's hard at work writing SMASH Book 2.

Find out more about Smash at SmashComic.com!

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TienTaylor on September 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Original post: [...]
I received an advance copy courtesy of Candlewick Press and Netgalley.

Readers of all ages must read this book!

The cover art of this book is great, I could already tell that the illustrations in this book would be fun to look at.

Andrew Ryan is a young kid who gets bullied at school. He wishes for super powers to defend himself against the bullies. Suddenly, his wish comes true when the local super hero dies and his powers magically went to Andrew. What do you do with all that power!?!

After receiving the power, it wasn't just the bullies at school anymore. No, there's greater evil in the world.

Everyone wished they had super powers to help themselves. Let your imagination run wild with this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rich M. on October 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I won a free black-and-white ARC of this book over on Booklikes and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It may have been a quick read (about 20 minutes for me) but it was a good one!

The story of a young boy who gets become his favorite superhero might seem a bit old-fashioned nowadays, but the Boltons pull it off nicely. The art is a tad more manga than my tastes (I'm a old-school comic book-kinda guy), but these two can actually tell a good comic story, unlike a lot of modern, photo reference-reliant people that are passing themselves off as "comic book artists" today.

I had been unaware of the webcomic before getting this book, but I'll certainly seek it out now, and the next volume of this series!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dad of Divas TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I am a big superhero fan, so I am always game for meeting more through stories like this! From beginning to end I was completely engaged in the book itself. It was a fun and engaging read and you will get transported back (in my case) to when I was 8-9 and was wishing for my own super powers. Though my wish did not come true, Andrew, the main character in this book wishes this and receives his wish, how cool is that! Overall, this is a fun story for the whole family, and if you are a superhero fan or if you have one in your family, this is a perfect gift!

*I received a copy for review - all opinions are my own*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bravenewcraig on December 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific comic. Same quality of the comics I used to read and love in the 80's that they don't make anymore. A must for anyone who was a fan of the Stern/DeFalco/early Micheline Spiderman stories. Sometimes dark, sometimes funny, but always engaging. Plus Kyle Bolton's artwork is SPELLBINDING.
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Format: Hardcover
Usually when a superhero in a comic book or graphic novel receives powers they are either born with those powers or they get them when they are at least a teenager. Very seldom do they ever receive powers when they are a child; the only character I can think of who received his powers as a boy is Billy Batson as Captain Marvel. However, SMASH: TRIAL BY FIRE is all about a boy who is granted superhero powers and how he deals with life after receiving those powers.

Andrew Ryan is a boy who is constantly bullied at school. His older brother, Tommy, loves him, but he’s a teenager who seems more interested in his friends instead of his family. One of Andrew’s big joys is the real life superhero Defender. Andrew watches the Defender show every day and even dresses up like him for Halloween. One day, after hearing a news report of Defender in action, Andrew attempts to track his hero down. There’s an explosion that apparently kills Defender, but the explosion blast delivers Defenders powers to Andrew. At first Andrew doesn’t know what to do. After all, he’s just a fifth grade kid. He decides he will try to do what Defender did and he dons his homemade Halloween costume and sets out to stop evil. He’s not used to the powers and keeps smashing into things and becomes dubbed Smash by the local media. At first he doesn’t like the name, but soon comes to embrace it. Meanwhile, Defender’s arch nemesis, Magus, sets out to spring a trap on Smash to suck out his powers to have for his own.

SMASH: TRIAL BY FIRE is a highly entertaining book. The illustrations are really high quality that are reminiscent of old school Marvel comic books. The story is engaging and entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Willard Wagener on August 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Very enjoyable story with interesting art and a real likable character! If you have the opportunity, pick this up, read it, then pass it on! This needs to be spread like a wildfire! You won't regret it!!!
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Format: Hardcover
I don’t read many graphic novels, but I’m happen I took the chance with this one.

I enjoyed the concept of having a ten year old character become a superhero. Most of the heroes of our modern mythology are in their late teens, at the youngest, and while that always brings with it real-life issues to go along with those of being a superhero, I think a ten year old can bring a fresh batch of obstacles to the mix. Andrew/Smash has to deal with a school bully, his older brother (also a, more mild, bully…like all brothers tend to be), and all the other “problems” of being young and not really fitting in. How can a kid that young juggle his normal life with his new superpowers? Well, this is something I hope future Smash books will explore.

In this first installment of the series, I felt that it was a strong début for the character and story. It’s a great origin story for Smash, with hints at many different sub-plots I can’t wait to see explored as well. I also liked the villain, Magnus. I see him as a strong and powerful foe. There wont’ be any easy battles for our young hero.

I think this, overall, is a great story with great artwork and while I feel it’s aimed at a younger audience (especially with today’s push toward educating kids about bullying), more seasoned superhero fans should enjoy this little guy. I’m looking forward to future Smash books.
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