11 July 2011

11 July 2011–Sidekicks

Written & Illustrated by Dan Sanat
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-439-29819-3
Captain Amazing has been the hero of Metro City for a long time. He’s also an animal lover, as evidenced by his pets – Roscoe the dog and Fluffy the Hamster.
Being the only real superhero in the city means that Captain Amazing is forced to spend most of his time thwarting the machinations of various villains, so much so that he never noticed his pets had developed super powers of their own.
After Captain Amazing is laid low due to a peanut allergy (during a fight with some villains), he comes to the realization that he needs a new sidekick.  Hearing this news, both Roscoe and Fluffy decide to become Captain Amazing’s new sidekick, even though he explicitly stated “no pets”.
Now, Roscoe, cocky and self-assured to a fault, and Fluffy, who’s three inches of furry fury are going to prove they can be good sidekicks. Their only problem is that they have no real training. So, in order to prove himself, Fluffy and Captain Amazing’s newest pet, a chameleon named Shifty venture out one night to fight crime. After they run afoul of some feral alley cats, they’re rescued by a shadowy character who goes by the name of The Claw, a feline vigilante.
Fluffy and Shifty return to the same alley the next night with a peace offering for The Claw, who turns out to be Manny, Captain Amazing’s first sidekick and former roommate to Fluffy and Roscoe. Fluffy figures that with Manny in his corner, he’ll be a great superhero.
Manny, who has been a vigilante for several years now, takes Fluffy and Shifty under his paw and teaches them the ins and outs of being a superhero. However, when the trio runs into Metal Mutt (Roscoe’s alter ego), old wounds are reopened, and ugly truths are revealed.
When Captain Amazing is blind-sided by a villain who is virtually unstoppable, and hell-bent on wiping the super hero out permanently, will Roscoe, Manny, Fluffy and Shifty be able to set aside Their issues long enough to work together, much less save Captain Amazing?
Nathan -
When I first picked up this book, I thought the artwork felt familiar, but I just couldn’t place my finger on it. There was a nagging feeling that  I knew what it was, but not where I knew it from, until I read the author’s biography.
Sanat is the creator of the popular Disney cartoon, The Replacements. With that in mind, I re-read the book, enjoying it so much more the second time.
Not only has Sanat created a great story that stays with the reader long after the story is over, but the artwork adds an extra dimension that truly brings the story to life. The characters are believable, personable, and enjoyable.
Jack – I liked the fact that Captain Amazing’s (A.K.A. Harry) pets have superpowers and can talk, as anthropomorphism is a great tool for drawing in reluctant readers.
Nathan -
The story reads strictly by the numbers, no major surprises here. However, taking into account the target audience and the sheer enjoyment Sanat infuses into this story makes this a non-issue. Only the most jaded and soured of readers would have an issue with the straightforwardness of the story.
Jack – I didn’t like the fact that Harry had a sidekick that ran away, as it can cause anxiety in some kids, especially if they’ve lost a pet.

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