My goal with this site is to share all the great independent books that I’m enjoying. This week a book came out that I thought might be a little too mainstream, and would be getting plenty of press in other places. Then for some reason my local comic shop did not get a single copy of the book in, hmm - maybe it was not as mainstream as I was thinking.
This week I finally got a chance to read Battling Boy by Paul Pope. I have been a fan of Pope’s work since the firs tissue of THB came out in 1994. I recently started to re-read THB (after waiting several years for a collection to come out of that material – still no collection) and found it to be very rough when compared to the work that Pope has released in the last 5 years. However re-reading this material helped me see how much Pope has grown as an artist and storyteller since he started 20 years ago.
Battling Boy is Pope at his peak. He is using all the tools, he has acquired over his career of making comics, to create (dare I say it) a masterpiece. With Battling Boy, Pope has created a vibrant world filled with action and adventure plus those quiet personal moments that really hit home. After hearing about Battling Boy for over a year. I expected it to be a 200 page story with tons of fights, but what I read was a touching story filled with emotion and challenges.
Essentially it is a coming of age story. Battling Boy is brought to earth on his 13th birthday by his father and is challenged to rid Acropolis of the monsters that are making things rough for the local citizens. Battling Boy is given a case with 16 items. A credit card, a key, a encyclopedia of monsters, a map and 12 shirts each featuring a different animal. With these items Battling Boy must help rid the city of it’s monster invaders.
There are also many subplots going on in addition to the main Battling Boy story. The is the tale of Aurora, daughter of Haggard West, the city’s original monster fighting hero who lost his life fighting the monsters. There is also a light political story involving the mayor developing through out the story. Plenty of material for future volumes, and I cannot wait.
I believe Battling Boy is Pope’s manga story that he has been working on since signing with Kodansha in the mid-90’s. I see some European influences, but the story is filled with the emotion and pace of a manga. The story also appears to be broken up into 20-30 page chunks. I could image this story serialized weekly in a ‘phone book’ manga.
If you have never read a Paul Pope story, Battling Boy is a great place to start and then go hunt down all of his other work!, You will not regret it. Battling Boy is a 5 Star Comic!