Graphic Novel Review: SMASH Trial by Fire

Graphic Novel Review: SMASH Trial by FireSMASH: Trial by Fire by Chris A. Bolton
Published by Candlewick Press on September 10th 2013
Genres: Graphic Novel
Pages: 160
Buy on Amazon

Whap! Thud! Crash! An action-packed graphic novel simultaneously spoofs and pays tribute to superhero lore while inspiring a new generation of crimefighters.

Ka-boom! Clobbered by fallout from a blast that kills the local superhero, Defender, Andrew Ryan suddenly has super strength and speed! And he can fly! Now it’s up to him to protect citizens from thieves, thugs, and fearsome villains. He dons a homemade costume to hide his true identity, and Smash is born! But fighting crime isn’t easy, especially when you’re in fifth grade. On top of evil robots and trigger-happy bank robbers, there’s homework, curfew, and the school bully to deal with. Not to mention the Magus, a fearsome villain who will stop at nothing to steal Smash’s superpowers for himself! Influenced by film, cartoons, and of course, classic comic books, this vivid escapade features a rib-tickling, high-energy storyline and the colorful, exaggerated figures of nostalgic comic-book art: a combo perfect for kids longing for a secret identity of their own.

SMASH Trial by Fire is a webcomic now finally available in a bound copy. I read a lot of graphic novels, but most of them do not involve superheroes if I'm being honest. I was looking forward to SMASH because the main character is a young boy who gets these powers from an accident in which another hero is killed. I am reading the advance copy, which is not in color but it says the finished copy will be. I will probably read it again when it comes out because I am a sucker for full color graphic novels.

I could tell right away that SMASH would definitely be a hit with the boys at my school. Andrew is a fifth grade boy who happens to be running away from bullies, right into the area where Defender is fighting the evil Magus. In fact, Defender is defeated, his remains found in the wreckage. Andrew realizes later that he has somehow taken on his own superhero powers and decides to try and take Defender's place. 

Even flying is harder than it seems and soon, his superhero name is deemed SMASH, as he is often seen smashing into a variety of buildings and objects. I thought it was fun to see Andrew try out his powers, while trying to save people from harm. There were a lot of hilarious scenes throughout the book and by the end, he realizes maybe he needs more help than he originally thought.

Final Verdict: Having enjoyed this book so much, I may need to start subscribing to the web comic so I can see what will happen next to SMASH! This is definitely a book you'll want to pick up for boys that love reading comics. 

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