Everyday Hero Machine Boy hit this month, marking the latest release from Skybound Comet, that publisher’s YA imprint. The first release from Skybound Comet was the absolutely excellent Clementine by Tillie Walden, which came out in June. While Clementine had a large, well-known, and beloved mound of IP to launch from — it is set in The Walking Dead comics universe and based on a character from a video game — Everyday Machine Hero Boy arrives as something different: an entirely new character and concept.
Whereas Clementine was a graphic novel story of a known character in a known world, Everyday Hero Machine Boy is an original character, debuting in this colorful and compact 180-page story for the first time.
This unknown status comes with both advantages and challenges. The advantages being that it has an entirely clean slate, with no expectations from an established fan base that may have very rigid ideas (ahem, see Clementine…) about what the character and world should be like. The creators here have near-total freedom to shape a new world, and you can almost feel it in the work. The challenge then is that there is no fanbase that will support the title on day one. With this in mind, Everyday Machine Hero Machine Boy does a great job of initiating its readers.
Doing so actually starts on its cover, which has an above-the-fold (so to speak) blurb from well-known creator Faith Erin Hicks, who describes the book as Astro Boy meets The Iron Giant, which is maybe aimed at the parents of potential readers here more than at readers themselves, but it’s effective nonetheless. It’s a strong comparison, one that should entice said parents to grab the book for their kids, in hopes they may love it as much as they themselves loved the aforementioned characters.
Also done quite well here is an opening sequence that delivers kinetic, high-action comics art along with a taste of this book’s tone, which is a mix of consequential, wistful, sweet, and funny. In this opening sequence, Karate Grandpa does battle with a robot that has fallen to Earth bent on destruction. The end result of their fight is that Karate Grandpa manages to activate the robot’s heart, turning it from menace to the lovable and sweet and titular Everyday Hero Machine Boy, and from there we are off.
In the pages of this book, young readers will find nods to fan culture, relatable lessons about telling the truth, jokes about the excellent of grandma’s spaghetti, and a set of twists to power the narrative forward. The artwork here from Tri Vuong, who co-wrote and co-created this one, is fun and detailed, colored by the book’s other co-writer and co-creator, Irma Kniivila.
Of particular note are the character designs, which might be this title’s strongest quality. Machine Boy looks great, like a modern update of familiar teen robot heroes, and throughout readers will find our hero tussling with aliens and pop stars and other robots, all of which also look fantastic.
I think what I liked most about this book, though, was the speed and confidence of its pacing. As noted, it’s a 180-page story (with a $12.99 price tag), and it was easy to tackle in one extended sitting. It moves fast with chapter breaks and recurring bits and a solid rate of revelation. In the end, it also leaves readers with a sense that the character is one built for new adventures.
Ultimately, while the book doesn’t quite transcend being aimed at YA readers (I’d imagine ages 8 to 15 or so will especially like this comic), it’s a great and fun pickup for young comics fans with a whole lot of heart.
REVIEW: Everyday Hero Machine Boy
Creator/Writer/Artist: Tri Vuong
Creator/Writer/Colorist: Irma Kniivila
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Skybound Comet
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… Machine Boy!
When Machine Boy falls from the sky into the domed city of Mega 416, he leaves a wake of destruction in his path… until Karate Grandpa is able to turn on his heart. Now, Machine Boy wants nothing more than to become a hero! Whether he is fighting giant bugs in the school’s basement, rescuing cats from trees, or making the perfect spaghetti sauce, Machine Boy is always looking for the best way to help others. But when his heart begins to interact dangerously with other debris from space, Machine Boy wonders if he can be a power for good after all.
Publisher: September 2022
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