The Lost Carnival: A Dick Grayson Graphic Novel

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Lost Carnival: A Dick Grayson Graphic Novel Book Poster Image
Batman's future sidekick soars in early adventure.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The Lost Carnival presents a nostalgic view of traveling circus life.

Positive Messages

Parents and children may have different ideas for their futures, but they can work together toward common goals. Friends stick by each other in times of adversity. First loves may not last very long.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dick Grayson is stubborn, brash, and impulsive, eager to leave the circus and his parents behind. He's also loyal, compassionate, and brave. A crime-fighter in the making. Luciana and Willow are girls of color. The rest of the cast is White. 


Members of rival circuses instigate a street fight. Monsters from another dimension attack Dick and his friends. A boy is disfigured in a fire.


Dick falls in love with Luciana almost at first sight, and they share a passionate kiss or two.


One or two uses of "hell" and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens at a swimming hole seem to be drinking adult beverages.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Lost Carnival is a graphic novel focused on Dick Grayson, Batman's future sidekick. Written by Michael Moreci and illustrated by Sas Milledge, the book follows teen trapeze artist Dick as he encounters a rival carnival and falls in love with a girl with mysterious powers. Violence includes a fistfight, a fire, and battles against interdimensional monsters, but nothing too disturbing. There's a hint of teen romance, one or two uses of "hell" and "damn," and a scene with under-age beer drinking. But The Lost Carnival is wll suited for younger teen comics readers.

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What's the story?

As THE LOST CARNIVAL opens, aerialist Dick Grayson wants to quit his family's failing circus act. His parents aren't ready for him to venture into the outside world, so he's especially interested when a rival company comes to town. He falls in love with the mysterious Luciana, even as she holds him at arm's length. But when monsters attack the carnival and Dick's best friend is badly hurt, he must figure out whether to remain loyal his parents or to a beautiful girl.

Is it any good?

It can be illuminating to see a young superhero-in-the-making discover his powers, and this early adventure of a comics favorite presents intriguing action and character revelation. Written by Michael Moreci and illustrated by Sas Milledge, The Lost Carnival presents its protagonist in an interesting new light, just beginning to master the powers he will later need to survive as Batman's teen sidekick. The trouble is, Dick is kind of a jerk -- impulsive, stubborn, needy, controlling. In the end, he comes through for his friends and parents, implying that he will eventually achieve Boy Wonder status. The fantasy plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but the narrative moves with enough energy to obscure its implausibility.

Milledge captures the tawdry flash of the carnival setting, choreographs elaborate action episodes, and designs expressive characters. This is not the best of the recent YA graphic novels from DC, but Batman and Teen Titans fans will likely enjoy its retro ambience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Lost Carnival presents circus life. Why were carnivals popular at the turn of the 20th century? Why are they hard to find today?

  • What kinds of effects can the comics medium produce that can't be done in prose alone? Why have graphic novels become so popular?

  • How do teens establish their independence from their parents? How can kids and parents find common ground when discussing their plans for the future?

Book details

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For kids who love superheroes and graphic novels

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