Books for Babes provides info on the sort of comics that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. This week we recommend the magical ‘Mysticons Vol. 1’ TPB, out now from Dark Horse Comics.
By Stefania Rudd. Mysticons is a popular Nickelodeon show that centers around four destiny-driven heroes and is all about embracing that Magical Girl genre. There are already a few novels, games and toys surrounding these characters so it’s only natural that the next medium for Mysticons to conquer be comics/graphic novels. And the creative team assembled to bring Arkayna, Zarya, Emerald, and Piper to the page are equally magical; their talents allows loyal fans and new readers alike to delve into this special brand of action-packed fantasy adventure.
Dark Horse Comics has collected the first arc of their licensed adaptation, a packaged wonder of enchantment that thrives in the sequential format with a newfound moxie. Kate Leth (Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!, Adventure Time) is no stranger to writing strong, empowered female characters and uses her talents to give all characters–good or bad–a voice and a purpose in the story. Leth is also wonderful at showcasing interpersonal relationships, no matter how nuanced. Her characters don’t simply interact—they engage. The solicit copy for Mysticons says that these teammates come from different walks of life, and it shows; Leth approaches these people with their varied backgrounds with the utmost respect and attention for detail.
For example, when Zarya and Emerald enter Amaranth to glean information from Bess the Bartender, a rather tough customer in her own right, the approach they both take is true to their nature, sincere, even funny. While they ultimately win over Bess to get the scoop, they end up endearing themselves to us, as well. There are also great sibling dynamics represented with the criminal twins, Throttle and Clutch, as well as with the heroes, Arkayna and Zarya. Leth keeps the vocabulary simple, the dialogue comes in short bursts of attitude and sass, great for younger readers. Since the story is set in a mystical world the names of certain characters and locales can trip up readers at times: As an aside, it took me a few moments to get the gruff biker gang leader’s name down (it’s Kymraw), but like we tell kids as they are learning new words, “Sound it out.”
Artists Megan Levens (Madame Frankenstein) and Andy Owens (Scooby Apocalypse) reinterpret the original cartoon versions to reflect their style, yet retain that vital Mysticons familiarity. So much of the book’s appeal, its message of acceptance and camaraderie, comes from the art: Consider Kymraw’s Twinkly Mare pajamas and decorated room—while these things are not something you would expect a troll to be into, there’s a humor to this that makes her less scary and even relatable to the children reading this book. Marissa Louise (Spell on Wheels) brings her bright, engaging colors to enhance the overall visuals of the book. They fit so perfectly with the fun-loving vibe.
For those familiar with the characters and the world they inhabit this will be an easy book to pick up and understand. For those of us (including myself) who have no prior knowledge of Mysticons, you may want to prime yourself with some of the basics of their overarching story. It goes a long way to better understand the relationships these characters have with one another, the motives they have when making decisions, and their personalities. I’ll be honest: when I read the book the first time I had many questions, but after I learned more about this team I re-read this volume, and was able to properly appreciate the story as the creators had intended. Please don’t let this be a deterrent in getting into this series. If you or the children in your life are fans of Zodiac Starforce and/or Agents of the Realm, you will feel right at home with Mysticons.
Aside from that, Holy Hippocampus! Any fan of the Magical Girl genre will absolutely love Mysticons. For those already in the know, this is yet another way to appreciate the saga; Mysticons Vol. 1 is a brand-new tale that lovingly furthers the adventures of these four hero warriors in a new medium that feels, for our intrepid Mysticons anyway, like coming home.
Dark Horse Comics/$10.99
Created by Sean Jara.
Written by Kate Leth.
Art by Megan Levens and Andy Owens.
Coloring by Marissa Louise.
Letters by Nate Piekos of Blamblot.
This book contains bullying and a near death experience.
Age range: 6-12