Ben10 Comic Books: Washington B C by Various

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Ben10 Comic Books: Washington B C by Various

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: An evil scientist needs putting in his place, and it will take a young boy with an arsenal of super-powered characters and the watch that switches them on and off to do it. This is a success as a comic book for the 5+ age range, as far as those things might be needed.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: unknown Date: January 2009
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1405246644

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Phew. With people to rescue from burning buildings, jewellery thieves to capture and golden collectors' cards to find all before the main body of the story, it's a good thing the hero, Ben 10, has a magical watch that can transform him into one of ten superhero alien personages. Even then, that said main body might be anything – a giant frog, a mutated killer hamster, a resurrected dinosaur – formed by the evil science of evil scientist Dr Animo.

I have no idea what happened in the first volume or what regularly went on in his (already expired) Cartoon Network series, but I am left with no doubt as to what is happening here. For a fan of graphic novels this is the most unsubtle instance I have ever come across – and hence ideal for the target audience. Sound effects are everywhere, the dialogue is the basest, bluntest writing, and the captions equally self-evident in passing on the story to us and filling in the gaps between the illustrations.

The imagery is actually a lot better than I might have expected. There are what we call metapanels – here a collage of the same person at different moments in the same frame – and a great diversity in layout. The way the backgrounds get put slightly out of focus by a dusty sort of airbrush quality and pick out the foreground characters works very well.

But I am sure I am discussing things the target readership doesn't want to think about. They'd be much more likely to cherish the human fireball, the four-armed muscle-bound bruiser, and the, er stinkfly, Ben uses as characterisations in the action. It's a good premise – obviously allowing for no end of combinations in cartoons and books to come. There're the other members of Ben's small family, a young female cousin, and grandfather – and I suppose the collectors' cards – to ground the story with some realistic wish-fulfilment side.

This is a volume that, I will admit, takes me back a bit too far into my distant past. It's getting harder and harder to imagine myself as an under-8. As a result my rating of this book might be a bit off, but I think the kinetic and clear action, and sharp, precise lines will make this a fair success. It might be hampered by the fact it seems to have surfaced after the first cartoon existence of Ben has left us, but I might be mistaken, and he might still be all our young friends are talking about.

When it comes to the parent buying this certainly U-certificate read, I would leave it to them to ultimately decide. It does come down as a book with not much in the way of complex reading, but a strong pictorial presence and dramatic story. If you feel the need to encourage reading, this might, or might not be the ideal place to turn. It might even lead to all those heinous junior X-Men and baby Spiderman comics.

The next step up from this, in quality and reading ability, is Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer.

We at the Bookbag must thank Egmont for our review copy.

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Buy Ben10 Comic Books: Washington B C by Various at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ben10 Comic Books: Washington B C by Various at


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