Monday, October 28, 2013

Battling Boy by Paul Pope Review

Two weeks ago, Paul Pope's Battling Boy hit the shelves. By reading this comic, you know that this book is born out of Pope's love for superheroes and the medium of comics. In short, the story follows Battling Boy as he is instructed by his father (a Thor like demigod) to protect the people of Acropolis from the hordes of monsters that are terrorizing the city. Acropolis already has protectors, namely Haggard West and his daughter, which means Battling Boy is not alone in his quest to protect the people of Acropolis. The story has great characterization of both heroes and villains and all the characters in between. There are clear and familiar archetypes that Pope is playing with in both refreshing and familiar ways (i.e. "boy sent by parents to protect a foreign people" is the most obvious). It was this reconfiguration of archetypes that I found engaging and familiar, while Pope does not redefine the superhero genre or its familiar archetypes, it was a refreshing read that reminded me why I love comics and the stories they tell.

Pull my finger. Okay fine, don't.
Paul Pope's art is one of the main reasons I picked up this book. I loved his Batman: Year 100 and especially enjoy the covers he does for Catalyst Comics. His art continues to amaze me. I find myself spending more time than usual just starting and observing each panel, from the way he draws original characters and monsters to the large shots of Acropolis and his depiction of a war-torn city. His art elevates the story and its characters. Pope's art is able to show grand moments in all their glory (such as when Battling Boy and his father arrive on earth) and he is simultaneously able to show more intimate moments and the detail that is needed. In addition to this I especially enjoy that his art is able to convey action so well. There is a scene when Battling Boy is testing out some of his powers on a large monster and he does not realize until its too late just how fast and strong he can be. The action in this scene, and many others, comes across well and helps the reader to become engrossed not only in the action, but also the story.

Venom's audition reel for Nightmare Before Christmas 2
The downfall of the book is also it's hope, the book ends with a large cliff hanger that requires a sequel to resolve the story (which he is thankfully currently writing). This is a let down on one hand because I wanted a complete story, but on the other hand it means that at some time in the future there will be more of Battling Boy drawn and written by Paul Pope.

I was happy to be acquainted with Battling Boy, Haggard West, Acropolis, and the world they populate and can not wait to learn more about this amazing world in the upcoming sequels and prequels Pope has planned. I highly recommend that you go to your local comic book store and pick up this great book that will remind you why you love comics again (and its only $16!!).
I easily give Battling Boy by Paul Pope a 9 out of 10.

To see more of Paul Pope's art, see his website.

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