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Battling Boy Paperback – October 8, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–With the death of hero Haggard West, Acropolis has become defenseless against vicious gangs of monsters and demons. Fortunately Battling Boy, sent here from another world to complete a rite of passage and become a hero, reluctantly offers to save the city and is immediately thrown into battle. But unlike other superheroes, Battling Boy struggles with a plethora of other, more subtle problems, such as an overbearing superhero father unwilling to help him; a city council that creates an embellished image of him; and uncontrollable superpowers from his magical T-shirts (yep, magical T-shirts). Action scenes are intense and well plotted, as when Battling Boy must jump from rooftop to rooftop in an effort to avoid a giant car-crushing monster. Although short on exposition, the story is well balanced with tongue-in-cheek humor and epic battles, but heartfelt sincerity and humility when the dust settles. Pope perfectly matches the over-the-top and fantastical tone of the piece with gritty 1980s-style artwork, toxic coloring, and jagged inking. The side story featuring Haggard's vengeful daughter, Aurora, trying to take her father's place is far less compelling than the main story, but will hopefully be fleshed out more in the upcoming sequel to this amazing epic.–Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WIα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Top customer reviews
Pope's writing style is very simplistic and (particularly when it comes to his dialogue) has a certain naivete. I used to consider it a weakness, but I've grown accustomed to it. It's very direct and simple. Characters say what they feel. There's a lot of shouting. There isn't much nuance to it. If you didn't know better, you might think this was written by a very bright middle schooler. But it works. There's a marriage of story and art here that I can't honestly say would be improved by a more sophisticated script.
The area that could really use improvement here is the plot. I'm not usually very concerned with plot, but it's sort of a problem here. I don't get the impression that this was some meticulously planned opus, but rather that Pope more or less wrote the story as he went along, based around a loosely framed outline. The story jumps from scene to scene. It's very fragmented. There's not much in the way of segues. By contrast, Adam Warren's series Empowered is also a one man show that has sort of an improvisational feel to it, but as you sit and read it, it just flows. Every panel has a purpose. It feels like if Warren had all the time in the world to plan it out it would have pretty much turned out the same. That's not the case here. Most importantly, though, this isn't a proper story. It's barely a proper setup for a story. It's fun to read, but at the end of the day it feels like a series of loosely connected scenes that would have benefited from more thorough planning. I know there's at least one more volume on the way, and maybe more after that (though hopefully Pope has the restraint to keep the story finite, given his sluggish pace; I'd like to see the end of it), but it would have at least been nice to see one concrete, cohesive story arc here to set up future volumes, and this book fell just short of that.
Cool premise, fun to read, and the best art on the planet, but it's not quite a story.
A quote from page 91 gives a fair description of Pope's art on this one: "The pictures -- they appear to shimmer and shift, as if they were alive! These were painted with inks made of pulverized moonblood!"
I like to imagine giving this as a gift to my past 10-year old self, because kids are going to love this series along with the growing numbers of grown-up Pope fans. I was surprised that the book itself was kinda small, especially since Pope's artwork is best viewed larger, but Paul has mentioned the possibility of a deluxe, oversized black and white edition in the works. And best of all, this means THB is ever closer, and judging from the quality of the work here it will be magnificent. Highly recommended.
The "manga-european" Pope's art really matches with the story. It's dynamic, highly detailed and incomparable in the action scenes.
This is a graphic novel that surely will be remembered in the Eisner, Harvey and Eagle awards of 2014 ... and that will make you want for more.
Definitely a must-buy!