In this comics series, first published in France, Tao is a bit like Bill Watterson’s Calvin by way of the Karate Kid, boasting and making trouble while his martial arts school chums work hard and follow the rules. Richard’s episodes usually last just a page or two, and the humor is friendly and lightly slapstick. Tao, in his kendo gear, announces, “Tao is coming. Tremble before me!” to roars of laughter; his friend Kat has adorned his mask and armor with pink bows. Later, he tries to tie his robe correctly and his pants fall down. There are a couple of fine moments, as when the blocks of wood Tao crushes impressively turn out to be graham crackers, or when the school’s Master Snow saves Tao from a falling piece of statuary without Tao noticing (“No way! I’m telekinetic!”). Ryser’s style and pacing are polished and professional. The setting and architecture are generically Asian and merrily anachronistic; although backgrounds feature antiques like rickshaws and floating markets, video games and inline skates show up, too. Simultaneously available: Ninjas and Knock Outs!
and Clowns and Dragons!
Ages 7–11. (May)