by Whitney Grace
Acropolis is ridden with monsters who eat steal children and destroy the city. Haggard West was the only man capable of beating them, but he died. His daughter Aurora decides to take up her father’s mantle, but someone else is sent to save Acropolis. It is the fearless, all powerful Battling Boy! Well, he’s not necessary fearless and his powers are limited, but hero work runs in his bloodline, so it’s sure to work out for him, right? Battling Boy was sent to Acropolis on the eve of his Turning Day, or his thirteenth birthday, for a ramble. He is supposed to prove himself as a hero in order to return home. He gets caught up in the celebrity of the moment and learns all to quickly what is really at stake.
Battling Boy isn’t keen on being a superhero, but he wants to return home and make his parents proud. He is left with very little instruction and has to figure out things on his own as adults try to manipulate him. He’s confused and alone, but determined to complete his mission. Anyone else see the metaphor for conquering puberty? Battling Boy exhibits a smart naïveté, similar to a tourist who speaks the language but is unfamiliar with customs in a foreign country. The mayor and his cronies see him as exploitable, but the kid demigod isn’t so stupid he can’t take advantage of the situation himself. He makes mistakes like any adolescent, except his tend to have more far-reaching consequences.
Paul Pope is the evil genius behind this creation. Besides the great story, he fills the pages with inky, gritty, drippy art and its fantastic! Pope is not afraid to get his characters dirty and his textures leave a fine layer of dust and sweat over them. It augment the city’s dire monster situation and the desert environment. No one can quite get clean, just like the monsters don’t quite leave. Mexican and other Hispanic influences weigh heavy on the art for a nice blend of culture and new style in teen comics. Thank you Pope for leaving the manga to other artists.
Battling Boy is a coming-of-age story but it careens widely to the left with its original take on the superhero genre.