Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Comic Review: Battling Boy

Another comic I would have read earlier if my library had let me, although this time it's my own fault since I simply forgot to check earlier to see if they had it, still haven't figured out how my city library buys their comics yet (especially since they have volumes 3-5 of Gundam: The Origin but not one or two, I'm really confused by this one!). I'm also confused how it seemed like I was seeing reviews for the next book, The Rise of Aurora West back at the end of July when it's not even out yet, wonder how soon my library can get that one..... 

Battling Boy by Paul Pope

The city of Acropolis is under siege and the city's greatest hero Haggard West has just died. But lo and behold some strange beings from another world, maybe gods or maybe just aliens, have decided that for their sons 13th birthday quest he shall defend the city and save her, although he hasn't the faintest idea how to even do it.

This book just felt too short, and not in the good "I want more!" sort of way, more in the "was that really enough to call it an installment?" way. We're introduced to battling boy, Aurora West, and the villains but only Aurora West starts becoming fleshed out and, in this book at least, she's the least important of those three. I question what the point to all the scenes showing the villains gathering allies was for, especially since we still know nothing about their reasons and motivations for suddenly appearing a few decades back to steal small children, while the unknown is scary if it's too far removed from the story then it's merely forgettable (and no saying "there's an even bigger boss!" isn't a reveal, it's part of the set-up). The titular battling boy suffers the most from this however, he's our hero and we don't know anything about him, heck it seems like he doesn't even know a lot about himself. He does mess up early on in the book and lie about it but the story darts around so much (and only takes place over a few days in-universe) that there's not enough time for his actions to feel bad and for the repercussions for it to feel real. This felt more like an opening chapter, maybe two, to a story rather than a full book sized installment.

Art-wise I wasn't the biggest fan here, the art didn't feel "gritty" so much as it felt like "rocks and pebbles", just bumpy and rough without reason. The coloring was a bit flat in places as well, it lacked a really wide range of highlights and shadows, but I know that's a detail that bothers me more than other people. And will all of these details bother other readers as much? I'm not sure, I've seen a lot of praise of the book for sure but I've also seen other people question why the follow-up book (part of a two book set) immediately focuses on another character. Personally I do plan to read the next book but if the pacing continues like this then I can't imagine I'll stay interested in the story for very much longer which does make me sad, I'd like to support American print comics but if it's not for me then it's not for me.

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