…thrillingly kinetic, funny and moving…
Battling Boy is a dazzling mash-up, referencing (among others) the 1940s noir work of the artist-writer Will Eisner ( The Spirit), Steve Ditko's 1960s version of Spider-Man and the aggressive counterculture-era comics of Spain Rodriguez. And for all its fizzy newness, Battling Boy is very much an old-fashioned "boy's book," a coming-of-age saga complete with a plucky yet sensitive hero who will beguile readers of all ages. This is the first of a projected two-volume story, but it stands alone gloriously.
The New York Times Book Review - Ken Tucker
The future of Arcopolis, a city under siege by daily monster attacks, is in jeopardy after its champion, Haggard West, falls in battle. Hope arrives in the form of Battling Boy, a pampered 13-year-old warrior god whose initiation into adulthood is to become Arcopolis's new protector. Even with magical powers imbued by a set of totemic T-shirts, Battling Boy grapples with both the onslaught of monsters and his newfound publicity. Meanwhile, Arcopolis' resident villains plot to keep their city hero-free, and West's daughter, Aurora, looks to take up her late father's mantle. Alt comics mainstay Pope, in his first work for young readers, trades his signature dark and heady aesthetic for a pulpy Technicolor fantasy with a flair that is expected of one of the industry's most acclaimed creators. But the book is more than just eye candy, matching its style with substance and tackling all-too-human problems (despite a cast of mostly otherworldly characters) like the fear of failure and the pressures of legacy. It's another notch in Pope's belt, and a worthy addition to any comics fan's library. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)
There is no one in comics like Paul Pope: gifted beyond all reason, he is an artist of immense protean talents and a deep soulfulness.
In Battling Boy, Pope has spun a smashingly beautiful adventure about a not-so-powerful boy-god sent down from the higher dimensions to save a crumbling city from the monsters that afflict it. Rapturously inked and drawing upon what feels like the entire tradition of pulp storytelling, Battling Boy is a thunderclap of a booka kaleidoscopic mash-up of the highest order where kaiju mix it up with science heroes, and where a girl named Aurora takes up her fallen father's jet-pack (and his weapons) and nearly steals the whole show. Friends, this book is a number one stunner and the second installment cannot come soon enough.” —Junot Díaz, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao “Paul Pope's delightful and original Battling Boy is the adventure of the year!” —Jeff Smith, Eisner Award-winning author of Bone “Full of energy, precision, and pure kick—not to be missed.” —Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies “Pope is set to soar to glory.” — Wired “A new generation hero.” — Entertainment Weekly
Gr 8 Up—With the death of hero Haggard West, Acropolis has become defenseless against vicious gangs of monsters and demons. Fortunately Battling Boy, sent here from another world to complete a rite of passage and become a hero, reluctantly offers to save the city and is immediately thrown into battle. But unlike other superheroes, Battling Boy struggles with a plethora of other, more subtle problems, such as an overbearing superhero father unwilling to help him; a city council that creates an embellished image of him; and uncontrollable superpowers from his magical T-shirts (yep, magical T-shirts). Action scenes are intense and well plotted, as when Battling Boy must jump from rooftop to rooftop in an effort to avoid a giant car-crushing monster. Although short on exposition, the story is well balanced with tongue-in-cheek humor and epic battles, but heartfelt sincerity and humility when the dust settles. Pope perfectly matches the over-the-top and fantastical tone of the piece with gritty 1980s-style artwork, toxic coloring, and jagged inking. The side story featuring Haggard's vengeful daughter, Aurora, trying to take her father's place is far less compelling than the main story, but will hopefully be fleshed out more in the upcoming sequel to this amazing epic.—Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI
A young boy with a divine pedigree may be Earth's last chance to rid Arcopolis of its scourge of monsters. In Arcopolis, the streets aren't safe to roam past curfew. Luckily for its denizens, the hero Haggard West helps battle the evil forces of Sadisto and his hooded ghouls. However, in a shocking turn of events, evil triumphs over good, and the metropolis is left without protection. In a world far, far away, a 13-year-old son of a god has been chosen to help Earth fight the onslaught of monsters as a rite of passage. Sent with only a few possessions, including an array of magical T-shirts, Battling Boy helps the city--but he finds he cannot do it alone. Pope's creation is a fast-paced, taut, capes-and-tights tale successfully incorporating all of the elements needed to construct a winning superhero yarn. It's got a twist that is sure to appeal to every young reader; who doesn't want to see a superhero who's their own age, free of all the pain and heartache most adult superheroes have these days? Pope's art isn't for everyone; it's frenetic and distorted--not the usual slick, superhero stuff. However, those who pick this up will not regret it: Battling Boy is an accessible superhero anyone can enjoy. An abrupt ending will have readers on tenterhooks for the next installment. A masterful nod to the genre. (Graphic adventure. 12 & up)