Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Battling Boy by Paul Pope

Paul Pope's Battling Boy is a tongue-in-cheek adventure for all ages, Grade 5 and up. The city of Acropolis is being terrorized by monsters. A twelve-year-old demi-god is sent there by his powerful father to prove himself. In addition to defeating the creatures... with the help of his magical t-shirts, Battling Boy must also cope with his sudden fame in the city... and the manipulations of public relations specialists. It's sort of like the primping and parading that goes on when Katniss gets to the Capitol in The Hunger Games.

It is all great fun in bold colours like turquoise and orange. Pope's artwork is fantastic, moving the story forward easily. Pope's dialogue made me laugh out loud more than once, like when one of the underworld baddies uses "dingdang" in place of profanity.
 I'm a sucker for artful hand-lettering, as seen in this detail from  Paul Pope's Battling Boy.
A giant old spider pulls out folding spectacles with eight lenses before discussing an order for fireproof battle wear. Pope's garment-district spiders aren't sexy like Fiona Staples' bounty hunter, The Stalk, from Saga. They are, however, a good example of the way Pope has added texture to this world with interesting minor characters.

The car-eating monster (shown on the book cover) had me wondering if Pope had been listening to Blondie's "Rapture" while creating this story. ..."it's been eating cars all day long"...

Battling Boy ends with a challenge: can and will the heroic child be corrupted by the forces of evil? This character-based kind of cliff-hanger is the perfect hook for me. I look forward to the next installment.

Readalikes: The Lightning Thief and others in the Percy Jackson series (Rick Riordan); Poseidon; Athena; Zeus and others in the Olympians series (George O'Connor); Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (Tony Cliff); and Batman: Year One (Frank Miller).

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