Battling Boy

Battling BoyBattling Boy
Written and Illustrated by: Paul Pope
Publisher: First Second
Format: HC/SC, 6 x 9, 208 pages, Full Color, $24.99/$15.99
ISBN: HC: 978-1-59643-805-7, SC: 978-1-59643-145-4

Bursting forth and off the page in an all-new adventure graced by the penmanship of Paul Pope and the legendary lore of Batman, Superman, and Hercules Pope's Battling Boy introduces readers to a new type of hero, one based in legend and modernized for the 21st century reader. After all, what can a young, demigod boy do with his exceptional talents – even if they are need of some growth and maturity– when Acropolis' established and taken-for-granted superhero Haggard West has just been killed in battle.

Needless to say Acropolis is desperate, and I cannot fault them, for don't we all believe that our heroes are invincible and will always be there for us during our times of need? But no one is more surprised to find himself the city's new twelve-year-old demigod hero than "Battling Boy" himself.  

Despite the fact that his mind tells him he needs more training, his heart tells him he needs to act now. Save the city. Restore order. With hideous monsters swallowing the children of Acropolis and taking them into their shadowy underworld Battling Boy must act; he'll improve his heroic talents later. For now, however, he must save Acropolis. Period.
English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: A young demigod steps up to the plate when Acropolis' famed superhero, Haggard West turns up dead. With monstrous ghouls swallowing children and taking them down into a shadowy underworld beneath Acropolis Battling Boy must become the hero he knows he can be, but may not be mature enough to handle.  

Major Characters: Battling Boy, Haggard West, Missus Lobasch, Joey, Peter, Sadisto, Brother Rum, Nails, Coil, Aurora West, Captain of the 145th, Ms. Grately, Dugan, Rick, Mayor, the Four Horrible Horsemen, Humbaba, Mister Grey, Miss Teen Acropolis, Boss

Themes: Problem-solving, Tradition, Politics, Identity, Heroes and Villains, Good and Evil

Traditional and Contemporary Literary Pairing Suggestions: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Sula by Toni Morrison, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Some Teaching Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards For Young Adult Readers in Grades 6 - 12

Key Ideas and Details*
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
* The numbers referenced above correspond to the numbers used by the Common Core Standards (www.commoncore.org)

Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers:

Directions: As students read ask them to fill out the following graphic organizer, which calls upon them to think about the vast amount of interesting and unique characters and themes in Battling Boy. After completing the graphic organizer it would be wise to ask students to share and debate their choices and rationalizations for each character and their chosen theme.

Theme Choices

  Problem-solving                   Victim or Surivor                       Heroes and Villains

    Politics                                    Tradition                                 Good and Evil



Character Name


Theme(s) Demonstrated by this Character



Rationale for your Decision


Battling Boy






Haggard West






Missus Lobasch
























Brother Run


















Aurora West






Captain of the 145th






Mrs. Grately


















The Mayor






The 4 Horrible Horsemen












Mister Grey






Miss Teen Acropolis













Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida.  Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2013); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts ( in press, 2014).  When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her two wiener dogs, Sam and Max.