A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Battling Boy is an all-out superhero fantasy, far removed from everyday life. However, readers interested in mythology and the history of comics will appreciate how author-illustrator Paul Pope threads new changes into old, familiar story patterns.
Battling Boy celebrates individuals who use their special skills for the betterment of society and the protection of the weak. But the story also cautions against becoming overly confident. Some situations can't be handled by a single person. They require team work.
Positive Role Models
Battle Boy is confident, brave, and eager to prove himself as a superhero. But when he falls short in his ability to defeat the monsters himself, he must admit that he needs help.
Violence & Scariness
As the title suggests, there's a fair share of violence in Battling Boy. Airborne hero Haggard West appears to die early in the book in a fight against hooded creeps who steal children off the streets. Battling Boy and his father engage in extended battles against rampaging monsters. But the mayhem is mostly of a bloodless, fantastic nature, aimed against fantastic creatures and supervillains, with little civilian collateral damage.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Battle Boy is paired up with Miss Teen Arcopolis for promotional tours, but he's not particularly interested in her as a romantic partner. He might eventually be interested in young Aurora West, who's taken on the mantle of her deceased father, but there's no opportunity in this volume for them to do much more than meet.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some of the monsters hang out in a seedy bar where alcohol is served and smoking is allowed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Battling Boy is the action-packed start of a new superhero adventure created for a young audience. With a light, inventive touch, this graphic novel explores familiar themes from mythology and other comics but imbues them with a fresh sense of wonder. The level of violence is high, but it's generally bloodless and directed against monsters and supervillains, with little collateral damage to civilians. The plot ends in a cliffhanger, and mostly readers will anxiously await the next installment.
Is It Any Good?
In a marketplace saturated with sleek superhero narratives, this stands out due to its cheeky invention, unusual look, and clever appropriation and subversion of mythology and comic-book clichés. Author-illustrator Paul Pope injects his boy-hero saga with live-wire energy, keeping the action cranked but also hitting the important character beats. Readers might recognize echoes of Batman or Thor, but Battling Boy has its own unique, teen-friendly vibe.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.