First Second

The Fall of the House of West (2015)

The Fall of the House of WestThe Fall of the House of West is heavy stuff. There’s a little bit of comic relief with Aurora’s friend Hoke having a crush on her, but it doesn’t get much attention. Writers Paul Pope and J.T. Petty don’t want to let up on the reader, which is a little surprising.

Maybe the big character development for Aurora at the end of the comic sways things, but–by the end of the book–the reader knows Aurora less well than at the beginning of the comic. Her character arc is huge and Pope and Petty don’t deal with the full ramifications here. There isn’t time for it. Her journey is the point, the reader’s experience of that journey is the point. Plot twists aren’t the point.

Similarly, Pope and Petty leave the MacGuffin unresolved as well. They’re able to get incredible emotional response from the reader only to belay any resolution. It keeps the reader invested. There’s a definite commercial quality to the comic–and Aurora West as a character–but they aren’t chasing a movie deal. They’re chasing the reader. They’re trying to get their readership invested.

David Rubín’s art is decent. Most of the comic takes place at night, which is fine, but Rubín’s got a lot more personality on well-lit subjects. The panel composition is fantastic, though; it really helps the comic be so welcoming.

West demands the reader’s attention, in a very entertaining way. It’s excellent.


Writers, J.T. Petty and Paul Pope; artist, David Rubín; letterer, John Martz; publisher, First Second.

The Rise of Aurora West (2014)

The Rise of Aurora WestThe Rise of Aurora West is simultaneously original and not. Paul Pope and J.T. Petty have a derivative adventure for an entirely original character, even though her back story is derivative. Sort of. The details are derivative.

Aurora West is the teenage daughter and sidekick to Haggard West. He’s a science hero. Just like Tom Strong. Except he fights monsters in a way quite similar to Bruce Wayne. So some of Aurora West is really just Batman and his teenage daughter hunting down criminals. Except they’re monsters.

But with a lot of science and Aurora growing up in a world with monsters, there’s just enough difference to let her not be Robin or anything like a Robin. So then some of Aurora West has nothing to do with Batman and his teenage daughter. There’s too much comedy for it to just be a riff. Pope and Petty maneuver Aurora very carefully through the book–the comedy relieves pressure, keeps the pace set, gives the reader a chance to reflect. It’s beautifully constructed.

David Rubín’s art is nice. He’s not as good as Pope but does a decent imitation, with the black and white lending to some of the more Eisner-like imagery.

It’s an extremely ambitious narrative presented easily. Neat comics, as usual, from Pope.


Writers, J.T. Petty and Paul Pope; artist, David Rubín; letterer, John Martz; publisher, First Second.

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