The Fall of the House of West continues Pope’s chronicle of events that happened before Battling Boy, in the time when Haggard West and his daughter still patrolled the streets, protecting the city from the nightmare monsters. Aurora West has figured out that her childhood imaginary friend was really one of the monsters. She also found clues suggesting that it was this monster who killed her mother. Now, she wants to get revenge, but she also has to go to school, train with her father and Ms. Grately, and go on her regular patrols.
Paul Pope and JT Petty tell an absorbing story. Aurora is growing up in a dangerous world, having to learn how to defend herself and others. Pope and Petty show the strange, but caring, family that Ms. Grately, Aurora’s father, and Aurora form. Haggard West cares about his daughter—but he’s not “Dad” on patrol. Ms. Grately is governess, best friend, and mother-figure all rolled into one. The tale mixes dark and light moments. Yes, Aurora’s mother is dead and no one will talk about her, and there are monsters in the street. There is also hot cocoa, uneasy friendships with classmates, and ordinary moments spent in class.
The monsters are an ugly and varied lot. While all of them are nasty, they have different personalities and different goals as well as different appearances. This is much more interesting than a standard-evil set. What Pope and Petty have not revealed yet is where the monsters have come from. They don’t seem to exactly be nightmares, but there is certainly some link between them and humans.
As with Aurora West, the art in The Fall of the House of West is black and white. David Rubin relies on shade and shadow to show mood and create atmosphere. Backgrounds are largely uncomplicated with more suggested than shown, allowing the foreground to stand out.
This is a world of difficult choices and dark moments, yet it remains recognizably our world, one of hope as well as fear. And it is a well-told story that has not yet finished.