Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Battling Boy/The Rise of Aurora West

Battling Boy/The Rise of Aurora West
Paul Pope
JT Petty (co-author Aurora West)
David Rubin (Illustrator Aurora West)
First Second, 2013/2014  202 pgs/150 pgs
Grades 4-Up
Graphic Novel

Time travel to the earth in the not-so-distant future.  The world is riddled with monsters, who prey on children and wreck havoc on everything they touch.  The city of Acropolis is under-seize by the violent menaces and a mandatory curfew at nightfall keeps the citizens at their mercy.  The only hope is hero Haggard West, who's super human strength and super cool inventions, including a jet pack allowing him to fly, keep the monsters at bay.  He is assisted by his teenage daughter Aurora, who is smart, strong, and feisty, as well as beautiful.  Unfortunately, early on in the first book, Battling Boy, Haggard West is tragically killed while on a mission.  All seems lost until a mythological god-like boy is sent from a far away planet to prove his manhood: enter Battling Boy.  Battling Boy wins his first battle with the help from Thor-like father, but now he is on his own.  His superhero source comes from t-shirts with animals printed on them.  When he wears the t-shirt he assumes the power from the animal.  He is still working out his powers and getting adjusted to his new life and challenges when Aurora shows up, back on the scene, and ready to also join in the monster war.  The Rise of Aurora West is a prequel, fleshing out the back story of the West family and tracing Haggard's rise to power from archaeologist to scientific superhero.  Aurora becomes curious about the death of her mother and starts to conduct some research on her own to uncover the truth, all while studying during the day and battling monsters at night.

I've been getting my "superhero on" preparing for my superhero themed summer reading club.  I've had a long appreciation of graphic novels, although calling myself a fan might be too strong a word.  Still, I've been meaning to read Battling Boy and Aurora West, because they seemed different from the standard Marvel comic. I was not disappointment.  The plot is exciting and creative, the drawing amazing, and they manage to be original without being too artsy and loosing the target audience.  The art and story feel like a hybrid of American Marvel-type comics and Japanese manga.  They are written with kids in mind and, although violent, are age appropriate.  Many comic-loving kids read  graphic novels intended for adults.  It is a welcome change to see high quality superhero comics intended from the start for children.  If I have any complaint it is that the artwork at times seemed a little frantic and busy, but that could just be my old brain not processing the quick images.  Video game kids are use to frantic images and will expect them.  They are appropriate for an elementary audience, but are scary and violent, making them not for sensitive readers.  Battling Boy's mythological roots create a natural hook to grab the Rick Riordan fans.  Battling Boy is in full color, Aurora West isn't.  Both series have more projected volumes coming out soon.  Sure to be enjoyed by comic lovers of all ages and both genders, these new series are a cut above your average fare.

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