Battling Boy

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Battling Boy Book Poster Image
Live-wire adventure offers something new for comics fans.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some of the monsters hang out in a seedy bar where alcohol is served and smoking is allowed.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMr. D. Reads October 30, 2013

A New Hero Emerges

The graphic novel Battling Boy is a fantastic new epic for young people.
Kid, 10 years old February 26, 2015

What's the story?

BATTLING BOY begins with the attempted abduction of a boy from the streets of Arcopolis and the heroic battle between the monstrous kidnappers and the vigilante genius Haggard West. In its aftermath, a 12-year-old demigod known as Battling Boy is sent to the city as part of his \"ramble,\" a rite of passage that will prepare him for adulthood. Eager to prove himself and equipped with a set of T-shirts that convey magical animal powers, Battling Boy confronts the rampaging monsters head-on. But does he truly have what it takes to be the champion of an entire city?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Why do so many cultures around the globe feature a rite of passage that happens when a child reaches the age of 12 or 13? How do these rituals differ among societies?

  • What is it that defines heroism? Is it possible to be scared and brave at the same time?

  • Do governments or political parties ever exploit heroes for their own purposes?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and comics

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