Battling Boy Vol. 1 By Paul Pope. First Second Books, $25.
New Paul Pope comics are always eagerly awaited in certain circles, but his latest has been perhaps his most eagerly awaited to date: Not only was it announced years ago and seemingly in production forever, it would also see Pope attempting to break into a newer, younger, general-reader audience.
An artist’s artist with wide-ranging Japanese and European influences, Pope has never been the first name that comes to mind on the subject of “all-ages comics.” But his Battling Boy proves well worth the wait—and likely to capture that new audience. The title character is the teenage son of a Jack Kirby-like space-god warrior type. He’s assigned a rite-of-passage adventure on a world like ours, albeit one plagued by monsters of varying shapes and sizes. His job? To beat them all.
A rollicking, full-color, cinematic fighting comic with manga-like layouts and Pope’s distinctive, inky line work and quirky character designs, it’s a perfect example of how, as Pope’s apt surname suggests, he’s practically infallible.