The Rise of Aurora West

I read Battling Boy almost a year ago, so I admit that the world Pope created in that graphic novel is not as fresh in my mind as I'd like it to be. I do remember enjoying the comic, and now that I think really, really hard, yes, there were monsters in the first one. I think. The Rise of Aurora West is actually a prequel to Battling Boy.

I received an ARC of this from First Second, and it's not inked/colored, and I hope it will be. My main issue was that there was so much going on in each panel (my ARC was also a bit smaller than the full-size TP of Battling Boy) that it was sometimes difficult to follow the action. The monsters look a lot alike when rendered in black and white, but I think a jolt of color will resolve this nicely.

The best part of this book is the titular heroine. Aurora West is the daughter of Haggard West, Arcopolis' resident hero. He's actually a scientist superhero (think Tony Stark minus the playboy attitude plus Superman's jawline) who uses research and his own personal library to defeat monsters. Also a jetpack, but the emphasis is on brains and strategy. He's training his daughter Aurora to assist him in ridding Arcopolis of its monster menace, which just sort of showed up out of nowhere over a decade ago. The monsters aren't very smart. Actually, that's giving them too much credit--they're very dumb, which makes the complicated heists they've been pulling off quite puzzling.  Someone else has to be pulling the strings.

This story arc weaves around Aurora's personal quest to find out who exactly killed her mother. The more questions she asks, the more she realizes the answers may be hidden in her own subconscious, and heaven knows I love a good twisty-mind-bender. The ending finds Haggard and Aurora a bit closer to the truth, but they'll have to really fight for it in the days to come.

Pope does not over-sexualize Aurora. He makes her smart and inquisitive and brave and also pretty kick-butt in the fighting department. However, she's not perfect, which saves this from having a totally inaccessible heroine. Even her dad, Haggard, isn't always on the superb end of superhero-dom. 

I'm curious to see where this version of Earth (it's a version of Earth--maybe in a multiverse way?) and its superheroes and monsters goes next.

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