November 17, 2013
Good-hearted but impulsive kid contracts super-powers, tries his best — but being a hero is never easy.
We featured this book at our most recent Comics Jam, projecting the book up on the screen to read with the kiddies of the after-school crowd. A fun read-aloud, the dialogue is clever and funny, the story lopes along at an easy pace once it gets rolling. The feel is something of a cross between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Spider-man — though unlike Greg Heffler (protagonist of the Wimpy Kid series) fun-sized hero Andrew Ryan isn’t, you know, a jerk. He’s a good kid who idolizes the local superhero named Defender, trying to live up to his example. Even without powers Andrew attempts to make his world a better place, to confront bullies or help kids in need (in one sequence attempting some dashing derring-do involving a tire swing to rescue Halloween candy from the greedy clutches of sidewalk goons — with the usual disastrous results).
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October 4, 2013
Comix maestro Paul Pope (Batman: Year 100) debuts the long-awaited ‘Battling Boy’: Teen gods and science heroes vs the monsters, Thursday OCT 10 at 7:30 in the kids room.
Artists, critics, and comics aficionados will tell you there’s no one quite like Paul Pope working in American comics today. With his hyperkinetic line contrasting with strong lush inkwork his panels alternately brood and slouch or animate themselves on the page, fizzing and hissing with energy. He has produced well received independent and adult titles (see Heavy Liquid, 741.5973 POPE in our catalog) or worked new creative angles on big name projects (critically acclaimed Batman: Year 100 — 741.5973 BATMAN).
In Battling Boy Pope he gets to play with a lighter touch, creating a coming-of-age heroes tale starring teen gods, action-science soldiers, and a world overrun with huge monsters and nasty boogeymen. He allows himself to play in a realm that harkens back to the pulp science fantasy stories of a more innocent era (Flash Gordon, or works by Jack Kirby) while keeping a contemporary feel.
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May 31, 2011
At the New York Comics Convention some years back I sat in on a panel where the Marvel rep discussed the difficulty they had in training their in-house staff to write for an-all ages audience. He said that for many years they were simply pulling writers and artists from their mainstream books and instructing them what not to say or draw. No guns, no blood, no ‘language’ or suggestive situations, and so on. The results were awkward, uninteresting, clunky.
No surprise since studies show the average age of most comics collectors is over 30, and most comics writers and illustrators nowadays grew up reading comics, and have moved on to adult themes: cynicism, decay of common values, despair, etc…
Generally though the genesis of superhero comics can be understood to be adolescent hormonal fantasies. Bulgy men and women (with correspondingly exaggerated characteristics of male/female bulgy-ness) swoop across the sky in skintight costumes, solving problems by pounding them to pulp. These are testosterone surges running rampant.
And if there exists a sort of magical thinking in the idea that you can simply smash your complex problems as they arise, well, what’s wrong with a little magic? It’s enough to realize that there is supposed to be a moral code that allows you to smash your problems, so long as you are doing so in defense of the helpless and not merely for personal benefit.
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May 31, 2011
It’s tricky to find good all-ages superhero comics that stand alone. Many purporting to be kid-friendly still don’t quite get it– filling their pages with those excessively bulgy men and women who tend to solve problems by slamming each other through walls (or else, bereft of their ability to commit mayhem in the name of justice, they race around battling non-sentient menaces: natural disasters or general misunderstanding, waving a stern finger in rebuke).
Another subgenere of all ages super-types parodies the titles of mainstream comics via cartoony caricatures of the heroes, usually morphed into kid bodies. The pint-sized wisenheimers prank each other and behave as naughty brats, while sporting the powers of their grown counterparts. These satirical stories work best if you already know the characters and the Universe of their storylines. The japes and wisecracks tend to fall flat otherwise.
Chris Giarusso has penned a couple of this sort of book (Mini-Marvels, in the Marvel comics universe), and manages to wring a snicker out of a well-read comics fan. But the books don’t stand alone on their own merit.
By contrast Giarusso’s superkid comic G-Man: Learning to Fly (Image Comics 2010, and the 2nd volume G-man: Cape Crisis ) not only stands alone, but flies around in giddy loop de loops divebombing the neighbors and chasing pigeons out of the sky. Or something like that.
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