Monday, September 16, 2013

Early Review: Battling Boy

By Reboot

Today I'll be reviewing Paul Pope's Battling Boy put out by First Second Books.  I've really liked what I've seen from First Second so I was excited to finally be reviewing something they put out.  Additionally, I was excited to finally read something from Paul Pope.

Full disclosure, prior to reading this I was fairly unfamiliar with Paul Pope's work.  I've seen his work before and I knew he was very talented, but I had just not gotten around to reading one of his works.  There are a lot of authors I still want to get around to reading.  It wasn't that he was even low on my list; for whatever reason it just didn't happen until now.  I also have not watched Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad yet.  Again, not because they're low on my list.  I'm sure when I finally watch them I'll enjoy them, but it hasn't happened yet.

A few weeks ago I was over at Carmine Street Comics in the West Village with my friend Martha (you should read her insights and musings on Fridays over at ComicMix) who pointed out the copies of Batman Year 100 that were on the shelf and proceeded to talk fondly of Paul Pope.  It was after that which motivated me to take Battling Boy off my stack of books to read and get right to it.  (As a sidenote, I may have recently purchased multiple Paul Pope books since reading Battling Boy.)

To start, Battling Boy is a superhero comic that isn't really a superhero comic.  Technically, it is about a boy with powers protecting a city.  However, the backdrop is a gorgeously sad city in vivid ruin from the onslaught of exaggerated imaginative monsters that stretch the bounds of the graphic medium.  The character of Battling Boy is also sympathetic, being a boy looking to make his father proud of him while having to struggle with his personal morality and making sure he does everything to help the people he's been sent to protect.

I refuse to give any real spoilers, but part of the quirkiness that helps pull this story together are the strange abilities of Battling Boy.  His powers are t-shirt based.  Each t-shirt has a different animal or creature on it that lends its powers to him.  One thing I can say with absolute certainty after reading this book is I want a t-shirt with T-Rex powers.  The previous sentence is one I never thought I would type.  I profusely thank Paul Pope for providing me with the ability to have that thought.

The art, colors, and lettering all meld beautifully into a visually and intellectually stimulating story that stretches the bounds of the superhero genre so far that you can hardly tell you're in it.  The only other example I can think of that pulled this off so exceedingly well was Grant Morrison and Richard Case on Doom Patrol, which celebrated it's 25th anniversary this year.

For Paul Pope to put out something that may be one of the best examples of a non-superhero superhero comic in 25 years is no short feat which certainly makes Battling Boy worth your time and investment.  Battling Boy is out October 8th but you can pre-order an autographed copy now from WORD!

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