- Craig Graziano
Battling Boy has twelve t-shirts, each with a different creature emblazoned on the front. Apparently, they give him his powers, but he does not quite know how to use them yet. You see, Battling Boy is in training to be a superhero.
This fact does not offer much solace to the people of the planet Arcopolis. Their children are routinely being kidnapped by a wretched gang of monsters, led by a mummyish kingpin named Sadisto. They used to not have to worry about this sort of thing as much, back when Haggard West was their planet's superhero. Too bad Haggard West is now dead.
It is up to twelve-year-old Battling Boy, on a quest of manhood known as a Ramble. His father—think of Marvel's Thor...with more veins popping out of his neck—dropped him off on this planet with nothing but a crummy suitcase. It's up to this pre-teen to kick some monster tail. Unfortunately, he doesn't really know what to do. Maybe Aurora West, Haggard's daughter, can be of some assistance.
Paul Pope's artwork is both exciting and frenetic. The images erratically pulsate with life, while smoke and spittle fly all over the place as the characters fight. Fans interested in seeing more of his messy mayhem should try the book Batman: Year 100, where the Dark Knight is still doing battle in the year 2039.
Battling Boy ends up taking the credit for his father's slaying of a giant car-chomping beastie with swirling fangs. He is now a celebrity on Arcopolis, despite not really having done anything. If he is going to last there, he will have to figure out what these t-shirts, which feature animals such as an eagle, an elephant, and even a tyrannosaurus rex, do.
The best thing about the book is the design of all the monsters. Believe me, there are some nasty, rude dudes hanging out on Arcopolis. Most of them are in a bar that looks way more dangerous than the Mos Eisley Cantina. I do hope that as Pope's series continues, he puts as much thought into his characters as he does into his creatures. This way we won't just be in awe of the images but also of the story.
Battling Boy is definitely a good start though. It's a rip-roaring, rock'em sock'em adventure that is simultaneously familiar and yet completely unlike anything that I have read before. Request it today!