Reviews: Battling Boy & Gambit Volume 1

Battling Boy (2013). First Second. Written and illustrated by Paul Pope.

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Monsters roam through Arcopolis, swallowing children into the horrors of their shadowy underworld. Only one man is a match for them – the genius vigilante Haggard West. Unfortunately, Haggard West is dead. Arcopolis is desperate, but when its salvation comes in the form of a twelve-year-old demigod, nobody is more surprised than Battling Boy himself.

Magical t-shirts, space, crazy monsters? What’s not to love about this book?

Battling Boy is a demi-god who has been sent to Acropolis to prove himself. He’s been told very little about what he’s supposed to do and is only given some magical t-shirts with which to accomplish his goals. He goes in just as blind as the reader and together you discover just how crazy this world is and how much work needs to be done. This is the kind of story that I would have inhaled as a kid (and frankly still is). It’s action packed, dangerous and above all a little crazy. The villain is also incredibly creepy.

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In terms of the artwork, I applaud Paul Pope’s unique style but found it a little abnormal for my taste. Sort of like how Ren and Stimpy used to make me feel – a.k.a unsettled. That’s not to say it was bad, just not my style.

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Given my affinity for awesome super-heroines it should be no surprise that I was most enthralled with Aurora West, so I am very excited to see she is getting her own book later this year. However upon giving my copy to a nine year old boy I was quickly informed that in fact the t-shirts are the coolest part (and a trip to school for show and tell finds that others agree – I’m outnumbered!)

Gambit Volume 1: Always a Thief (2013). Marvel. Written by James Asmus. Illustrated by Clay Mann & Diogenes Neves.

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When Marvel’s premiere thief sets his sights on his biggest score yet, he may just end up over his head. Desperately searching for a means to destroy the pilfered artifact that’s cursed him, Gambit journeys deep into the Guatemalan jungles in search of a lost temple – but finds an ancient god-monster accidentally loosed on Earth! It’s going to take more than just playing cards and southern charm to get out of this one!  Then, coerced by a criminal mastermind, Gambit is sent to the United Kingdom to heist the greatest weapon in the history of man: Excalibur! How will Marvel’s premiere thief manage to dupe his extortionist while also escaping with a clear name? Be here as the X-Men’s ragin’ cajun kicks off his all-new solo career!

Gambit and Rogue were my OTP before that was even a term people used. I remember watching them on the old X-Men cartoon before school and loving every line of their Southern dialogue. And Gambit’s absence from the X-Men movies (let’s just pretend the Wolverine origin movie doesn’t count) was one of my biggest disappoints. So when I saw he was staring in his own comic series I knew I had to check it out.

I thought this collection started out on a strong note. Gambit is a lot more mature after everything he’s gone through but he is still himself and he is dying to return to his old ways (if only for a little while). But as it continued I began to lose interest. Primarily because he hardly interacts with any of the other X-Men. I know this is his solo series but I have a hard time believing the team/the school wouldn’t be a central part of his life/thoughts. The second reason was that this reads just like an Indiana Jones story, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but doesn’t feel particularly “X-Men.” This could have been any generic thief in my opinion. And finally the love interest. She fell completely flat to me. Her actions didn’t make any sense and ultimately she is completely forgettable.

Despite how initially excited I was for this series I don’t think I will be continuing with Volume 2.

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