Battling Boy was good. The Rise of Aurora West is better. JT Petty and Paul Pope give us the training of a dedicated young superhero (or “science hero”) who has been a part of the superhero world ever since she was born. There are the expected gadgets and fights, but also a sense of family. Flashbacks show the people they were when her mother was alive, contrasting with the present and the changes that have taken place. Aurora herself is a nuanced character, an ordinary girl balancing regular homework and friendship with apprentice superhero work, a girl who misses her mother and who adores her father.
The Rise of Aurora West is also a mystery as Aurora pieces together clues about her mother’s death which happened before the story begins. The full story is not told yet; that will have to wait for a future book, which one hopes we won’t be too long.
Rubin’s black and white art is perfect for the Aurora’s story. He provides details like the thrown aside shoe in Aurora’s room and the doodles on her homework, or the expression on a superhero-in-training’s face as she drives the sleek car out to fight crime. The three creators have also left room in for the awkward moments, the times when Aurora slips or does not quite jump far enough. Aurora herself is a stocky, ordinary looking teen: she’s fit, but not over the top.
The Rise of Aurora West also provides some teasing hints of the monsters’ world. Aurora’s father tells her frequently that there is no “why” in what the monsters do; they are monsters, that is all anyone needs to know. Pope and Petty just begin to hint that Aurora is right to wonder, and to give us a small door into how the monsters operate in the world.
I strongly recommend the book for people who like superheroes, want stories about strong women, prefer those women fully clad, like a good mystery, and/or a tale about things that go bump in the night. Those curious about graphic novels may want to stop by as well; this is a good example of the work done right. You do not have to read Battling Boy to understand The Rise of Aurora West, but it does make a part of Battling Boy clearer—and both books are worth your time.
Writers: JT Petty, Paul Pope
Artist: David Rubin
The Rise of Aurora West was published September 31, 2014.
Published: September 30th 2014
Publisher: First Second
ISBN: 1626720096 (ISBN13: 9781626720091)