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‘The Lollipop Kids Vol 1: Things That Go Bump in the Night’ TPB (review)

Written by Adam Glass
Art by Diego Yapur
Published by AfterShock Comics

 

New York’s Central Park isn’t just a botanical oasis in a concrete jungle, but a prison for monsters of storybook, myth and legend. And an army of children are charged with guarding that prison in the young adult fantasy comic The Lollipop Kids.

Overall this is a fun read with a cute concept that wastes little time in its plotting and action, and that’s one sick premise. Add in a sibling drama and a quest to vanquish boss witch Morgan Le Fay, and this thing cooks.

The story picks up considerably once we get to some actual Lollipop Kids, even if it’s trading on some pretty familiar tropes. The tiny redhead is super angry, or the spellcaster always messes up, or the large, fat boy says dumb stuff.

Adam Glass is known for his work on TV series Supernatural, and he draws upon his mash-together-all-the-lore bona fides in putting all the European monsters together. Morgan Le Fey arrives with all the various famous witches including the one from Hansel and Gretel, and the trio from Macbeth.

We see ogres, vampires, Frankenstein monsters, goblins and more.

I appreciated the idea of the Lollipop Kids as a secret society dating back to colonial New York, and how that heritage leaves some of the kids talking in old-timey language. That these kids are older than their years, fighting these monsters and learning accounts from their ancestors.

And it’s this idea of heritage that main character Nate’s story revolves around. A biracial Black kid, Nate receives a magical artifact connected to the Black side of his family. And we discover that being a Lollipop Kid is in the blood, passed down generation to generation.

Glass famously started this project as a bedtime story with his son, who has dyslexia. (Rather than attempting the trouble of reading storybooks, they decided to make their own story.) They weave dyslexia into Nate’s story, as the disordering of letters and numerals reveal hidden messages and clues as he completes a quest to stop the monsters’ escape.

We also get some Goonies-style moments of these plucky kids on adventure against dangerous elders, while Nate changes from (rightfully) deathly afraid to answering the call of heroism.

Diego Yapur carries this book with detailed art and fluid linework.

Furthermore, his bold, expressive faces for the kids play great off Morgan’s cold, hateful visage. The kids actually look like kids, and his work on Big Red – a tiny, freckled redhead who’s hotheaded and badass – definitely has room as a fan favorite and cosplayer sensation. A moment when she puts her hand in the dirt and smears it under her eyes as eyeblack – at night! – is just wonderful.

Yapur also draws some solid monsters, to the point that I wish there were more of them in action. Nothing beats the Big, Bad Wolf on that first page, though.

The storytelling could use some refinement. The first 10 pages of the story is all narration, during which the main character delivers a ton of exposition. And lamp shading bad storytelling doesn’t cure the offense.

Did I mention the narrator doesn’t even tell us his name, and I don’t remember it coming up until near the end of the book! He’s Nate Motley, and he’s gone to Central Park in search of his sister, Mia, before their father throws a fit. This is all the kind of stuff that could be more shown through action and some moments between Nate and Mia. (Think about how well Into the Spider-verse introduced Miles Morales and his home life, for example.)

The idea of heritage plays well, especially as Nate grows empowered by his heirloom weapon. On the flip side, another story of magic and heroism being tied to a bloodline is perhaps something we need less of in these times of YA literature.

And just as a more organic setup of Nate and Mia’s family drama could have been done, the resolution of that drama also could have been allowed to breathe.

That said, this was a fun read with ample room to continue. When my parent friends ask for comics their kids should read, this goes onto the list.

Grade: B

 

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