cover image KAPOW!


George O'Connor, . . S&S, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-86718-7

O'Connor debuts with a high-energy comics takeoff in which three children play at being superheroes. The close-up action switches between the costumed children, scrambling around a cramped house, and fantasy battles played out among city buildings. The central figure is American Eagle, a boy in a ball cap decorated with a duckish yellow bill. In his imagination, he becomes a star-spangled hero with an eagle emblem on his chest, pumped-up muscles and enormous fists that strike with a "Kapow!" His crime-fighting partner, Bug Lady, sports thick glasses and a ladybug-spotted backpack, but the imaginative spreads portray her as a sinewy heroine with prismatic fly-eyes and whirring wings. In a fun twist, O'Connor introduces their nemesis, Rubber Bandit, on a wordless spread; he resembles Jack Cole's Plastic Man of the 1940s. But in reality, he is American Eagle's little brother in an oversize shirt. ("Prepare to be snapped , Rubber Bandit!" the hero threatens. "Mom says no hitting!" Rubber Bandit protests.) As the three wrestle, they knock a bookshelf to the floor; the crash summons a towering monster that walks with a "Thoom, thoom, thoom " and casts a demonic purple shadow. It's American Eagle's mother, who bursts in asking, "What happened?!" O'Connor cleverly plays quotidian dialogue against his punchy art. He draws dramatic comics with authority and humor, and he lets everyone in on the jokes. His child characters know they're pretending, but become overzealous when disguised; their enthusiasm is perfectly understandable—and contagious as well. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)