PLOT SUMMARY … Andrew Ryan is a typical kid who deals with school bullies, missed assignments, a jerk of an older brother, and divorced parents. He dreams of some day rising above it all and fighting alongside his superhero idol, Defender. When Defender is captured and killed by his nemesis, Mangus, his powers are transferred to Andrew. This sets up the ultimate kid-becomes-a real-live-superhero story. There is plenty of jaw smashing action to be had as the kid, Smash, takes on Mangus and other foes. Along the way, our hero struggles to find the right balance between his life as awkward school kid, Andrew, and his life as unstoppable savior of the city, Smash.
MY TAKE … I thoroughly enjoyed reading Smash, Trial by Fire for several reasons. First, it was well written in a fast-paced comic book style by writer, Chris A. Bolton. The illustrations were also top-notch by his brother, Kyle Bolton. The story has plenty of action and high-flying heroics to keep the kids reading. At the same time, it’s clean and avoids all of the moral trappings that are found in 90% of modern superhero comic books. By that, I mean there are no female characters with skin-tight outfits barely covering their over-sexed bodies. There are also no scenes depicting gruesome and bloody violence. Sure, there are violent scenes in Smash, but it’s always kept off page or in a fireball explosion in the difference. The worst you’ll see here is a fist pounding a villain’s jaw with a few teeth flying through the air. I felt like Smash hit just the right note with a story that today’s kids, having been raised on Batman and Avengers movies, will find super cool and not super lame.
Parents, especially of young boys, looking for an alternative to the mature themed graphic novels and comic books of today that are targeted at college students rather than kids, should take a good look at SMASH. It’s one of the few well-written and well-illustrated comic book style books out there that’s actually meant for kids. I give it a solid STAR.For more information on SMASH, Trial by Fire, follow this link.