I don’t do a lot of announcements about upcoming books, but these two from First Second Books are worth mentioning. Paul Pope (who created the bizarre dystopian Batman: Year 100) has an upcoming book (years in the making!) entitled Battling Boy. A young boy, son of a war god, has been “assigned” to be the hero of Arcopolis, a large city overrun by monsters.
According to this article in Entertainment Weekly (which also includes a preview of the comic), Pope’s aim isn’t just to create another comic book superhero, but to dig deeper into the very concept of superheroes. He wanted to create Battling Boy for the current generation of kids reading comics because he felt that a lot of the heroes we’re familiar with are no longer culturally relevant.
Whether Pope can pull all of this off — even if you agree with his assessment of Batman and Iron Man, which of course isn’t certain — remains to be seen. The preview pages, at least, have me excited to see where the story goes. Battling Boy is due out in October and is available for pre-order now.
The other upcoming title is actually a two-book set from one of my favorite comics creators, Gene Luen Yang. Underwire recently ran an interview with Yang, including excerpts, about Boxers and Saints. The two books tell a story of the Boxer Rebellion, in which Chinese peasants (the Boxers) warred with European missionaries and Chinese Christians. Yang, a Catholic himself, was torn by the question of who the protagonists were in this story, particularly because in many instances ethnic Chinese were warring against each other.
The result is this pair of books, Boxers from the perspective of the Chinese villagers and Saints from the perspective of the Christians. Each book will be a complete story that stands on its own, but combined will attempt to tell both sides of the story. I’m fascinated by the idea, and am looking forward to the release in September.