Comic Solutions

Book Review: The Rise of Aurora West

18465567The Rise of Aurora West, Battling Boy
Written by Paul Pope, JT Petty, Illustrated by David Rubín
First Second
September 2014

Acropolis has a nightly curfew, in the attempt to keep kids safe from the monsters who prowl the streets and the dark alleys. They have one hero. Haggard West, a rich scientist, avenging the death of his wife at the hands of one of these foul creatures. Joining him is his teenage daughter, Aurora West. By day she is trained by Ms. Grately in martial arts and by night she prowls the city with her father, hunting down the creatures of the night and stopping their mischief. But Aurora remembers and learns that her imaginary friend from when she was younger…may have had a hand in her mother’s death and may not be so imaginary. As she seeks to balance school, the night hunts, and finding out the truth to the past Aurora may find that she has taken on more than she can handle. And may need all the help she can just not to fall.

This is one of those books that’s difficult for me review, because it’s a spinoff/prequel of one of my favorite books from last year, Battling Boy. Because the book isn’t a direct continuation of Battling Boy, but instead focuses on one of its more interesting side characters, Aurora West, the art, layout, and writing style is different. And that isn’t a bad thing, it just makes it harder for me to review, as I try to keep in mind that this is a completely different book.

With regards to the art I actually like David Rubin’s style a great deal. The figures are dynamic and expressive, and his style really captures the feel of the battles and villains well. The problem for me though is that it isn’t the Aurora West that we met in Battling Boy. And maybe that’s part of a strategic decision since this telling her story before we meet her. But I feel in love with Pope’s version of Aurora and it’s hard to look at someone else drawing her. I know that’s a common thing among superhero comics and we all have our favorite artists that work on a particular character, but for me it feels too soon to have someone else draw her right now. And that’s not really Rubin’s fault, it just pulls me out of book a little bit.

Where I do have some issues though, is that the art and writing in some places at the beginning of the book didn’t quite jive well, particularly with some of the panel transitions. On some of the pages where the grid is broken or tilted at an angle towards the beginning of the book I fall out of the story, because I veer to the wrong panel or just something jars me out. And while I can stand back and look at the page and follow the logic, when I’m reading the story I get drawn out for a couple of seconds trying to figure out what’s really happening, and that’s not a good thing in an action/adventure/hero story. And maybe its because this is the first time this group has worked together and they were finding their footing. By the end of the story I didn’t see as much of this and did get swept into the last quarter of the book and it’s action.

When it comes down to it though, I had trouble with aspects of the story and the art. It just didn’t capture my attention the way Battling Boy did. And although this one didn’t work for me in places, I still love Battling Boy and Aurora West though, so I’ll definitely give the sequel a read because I want to know what happens next. I want to know who this mysterious figure is and what really happened to Aurora’s mother. I give it three out of five stars.

ARC provided by Gina at First Second

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