Paul Pope’s Battling Boy is an adventure story aimed at older children (10 and up is the publisher’s suggestion) and rolls three box-ticking concepts into one: superheroes, mythology and monsters. The city of Arcopolis is under siege by giant monsters, who roam its streets, eat its inhabitants and generally terrorise the place. As we start the book, Haggard West, superhero protector of the city, is about to fail spectacularly and die in the process, leaving the city in desperate need of a new protector.
A Thor-like thunder god notices the city’s need and sends his son, who seems perfectly positioned to take on the challenge as part of his coming-of-age ritual. Whether Battling Boy is really ready, however, is what this first volume is all about.
The rest of the book shows Battling Boy settling into the city and making attempts to deal with the monsters. Be prepared for the book not to have any conclusion, though. This is the first volume in a planned series, and there isn’t a single plot-thread resolved – this is cliff-hanger territory so let’s hope it’s not too long till the next one.
This makes it hard to make too many judgements about the story but it’s a strong start. The characters are lining up to be interesting, the baddies appear truly evil – perhaps more than younger readers might cope with – and the monsters are positioned nicely between Where the Wild Things Are and Pacific Rim.