Paul Pope is one of those names in the comic field I’ve heard bandied about for many years, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything from him. I saw Battling Boy go by once upon a time and purchased it with little reason. I finally picked it up this week and gave it a go.
Playing with various comic tropes and variations on classic characters has become almost a subgenre in itself. This one takes us to a world kinda like our own, but with a dieselpunk twist. A major metropolis (here called Arcopolis) is under siege by a chaotic wave of various monsters. It is protected by a Rocketeer-type hero, but things don’t go well. In the meantime, the son of a Thor-like god-hero is nearing his coming of age, and is sent down to this troubled world to become a man. Pretty simple, but it works. There are a lot of little nods to comic book traditions.
The art is weird and a bit ugly, but in a charming way. And it’s colorful, with a peculiar color palette. It works fairly well for the story and setting, especially when it comes to the monsters. There is some clever work in the dialog and a pretty good story. If I can complain about anything, it’s that the book doesn’t feel complete. I don’t just mean that it’s open for continuation, but that it feels like it should have been half again as long, with a bit more of a conclusion. Still, it’s good and worth a read.
-Matthew J. Constantine