I am not the only comic book reader in my household. While my wife reads a fair amount of the books I bring home each week, my 8 year old daughter “Big D” sometimes has as many books in her pull as I do on any given week. The availability of all-ages titles has had its ups and downs over the last 4 years and I’m happy to see that good books for young readers are on the increase. Every so often, I hope to talk about Big D’s books and offer some insights.
I am not a Brony. Really. But there are some things which, as a parent, you just kind of absorb through your kids. The Lauren Faust reboot to My Little Pony has been a successful interpretation of the brand and Big D has soaked in as much MLP media as she can find. My Little Pony now exists in two titles: this ongoing series and the micro series, which is primarily character-specific “one and done” story collections. The ongoing title always captures the personalities and voices of the characters well, and the plots are engaging and strikingly different than what has appeared on the show. This is not simply a rehash of previously released episodes in comic book form (you hear me, Marvel?).
Episode 13 starts a new story arc set after the end of the 3rd season of the cartoon and after the film Equestria Girls. It isn’t important that you have seen any of the show or the movie but those sources will bring you up to speed on why Twilight Sparkle has wings now. The pony bunch head to the beach and meet up with a pirate stallion who is looking for a crew. Rainbow Dash is quick to recommend the fillies and they all set off for The Gallopinghost Islands. Yes, the horse puns are in full force in this title as they are in the show. All the ponies get into the various aspects of piracy with Rainbow Dash being the most gung-ho. A cute and clever book which is a sure-fire win for any daughter or Brony out there.
Big D says “It is SO COOL!”
Scooby-Doo has been the longest running title in Big D’s life. Well-versed in the various cartoon incarnations as well, Big D is a bit of an expert in the ways of the Scoob. Of course when I found the Scooby-Doo/Batman collection on DVD it was a no-brainer to buy and watch incessantly. Seeing Mystery Inc. and the Dynamic Duo reunite on paper was exciting for Big D and myself.
The story centers on Man-Bat, probably the most appropriate Batman villain to meet the young monster hunters. This version of Man-Bat is all-ages friendly (so, not too scary) and Batman is trying to locate Man-Bat to administer the antidote to revert Kirk Langstrom to his human form. Fisch manages to work in a classic “pull of the mask” reveal alongside the Man-Bat tale. Sholly Fisch is a trusted name in the all-ages market having written the All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold as well as the DC Super Friends title from just a few years ago. His backup stories for Morrison’s recent Action Comics run were first rate, too.
Big D says “This is the first time that Batman has appeared in a Scooby-Doo comic (that I’ve read).”
Probably the most accurate “all ages” book in Big D’s pull this week since it appeals not only to younger audiences but also older non-Brony readers. These two stories are from DC’s celebrated digital comics line but since we like having hard copies of reading materials, we pick up the tangible editions.
Parker’s stories are superb adaptations of the Adam West-era Batman which manage to maintain the look of the series while dumping a fair amount of the campiness. In the first story, The Sandman is using his sleep dust to put Gotham to sleep and the Dynamic Duo spend a decent amount of time in a local coffee shop drinking espresso trying to stay awake. These comic stories can, of course, do a lot more with visuals and storytelling than what TV in the late ’60s could do, but The Sandman’s motives stay very flat: he wants to know where the Batcave is. Of course, Batman outthinks the villain and there are surprisingly few Baff! Bams! and Pows!
The second tale brings in the Yvonne Craig-fashioned Batgirl to the Batman ’66 comic world and put her against the Eartha Kitt-styled Catwoman. The setup is basic: Catwoman is robbing a museum of a priceless cat-named jewel and Batgirl stops her. Nothing epic but a well-executed story. The fight sequence is abstracted over a single page so, if you are concerned about showing younger kids comic violence, you have little to fear from either story in this collection.
Big D says “Why would The Sandman be all about sleeping?”
There were a few other books I saw in the store this week but didn’t grab. I almost picked up issue 1 of Ben 10 from IDW but, since Big D isn’t familiar with the cartoon, I just left it on the shelf. There are a lot of great titles out there for younger readers and comics can be a wonderful way to encourage strong reading habits!