Battling Boy is required to embark on a Rambling—a coming-of-age ceremony in which demigods are sent to realms in need of a champion. He’s sent to Acropolis with some power-enhancing shirts, a magic cloak, and a minimum of clues.
Acropolis is an embattled city: curfew is enforced because nightmare monsters swallow children whole. Local officials are helpless, and they rely on heroic vigilantes like Haggard West. Sadisto’s gang just killed West, though, leaving Aurora West to inherit her father’s arsenal of weapons and his unfinished fight.
Battling Boy has so much promise, but it’s difficult to determine how the series will flesh out in future installments. So far, it’s a fairly typical coming-of-age story, reminiscent of shonen manga [Japanese battle comics]: the first chapters provide solid groundwork for the elaborate setting. A reader needs patience, though, while waiting for the plot to pick up momentum.
Right now, the main strength of Battling Boy is its rich graphic elements. The personalized type, vivid colors, and unusual facial expressions are beautiful and arresting, in the way that urban decay can be beautiful. Battling Boy is a must-have if you love Paul Pope’s unique visual style.