Oh gosh, what an affecting middle grade graphic novel! Honestly, some of the most entertaining and moving writing out there today is in middle grade literature, and this title is absolutely part of those ranks.
Everyday Hero Machine Boy starts out with an older couple, Mei and Goh, who are mostly in retirement from running a karate dojo. When Goh goes to pick up groceries from Mr Hound’s store one day, he encounters a strange phenomenon falling from the sky. This phenomenon wrecks Mr Hound’s greenhouse, and turns out to be a robot. Goh tries to stop the robot from any further carnage, but a sequence of mishaps and misunderstandings finds the robot running back to the karate dojo, begging for Mei’s mercy.
After some thinking, Mei decides to raise the robot as the child she and Goh never had. As Machine Boy slowly learns how to integrate himself into human society, he faces challenges that include going to see Earth’s mightiest heroes in concert — it’s less terrible than the musical depicted in Disney+’s Hawkeye, I promise — as well as navigating school and keeping a pet secret from his Grandma Mei. Along the way, he tries to make friends, and learns not only valuable lessons about being human, but also strange secrets about this city and planet he’s fallen into.
I’ll freely admit that I never really warmed up to any of the classic manga featuring robots. Left to my own devices, I probably would have never picked up this title either: there’s just something about the subgenre that doesn’t appeal to me. So I was pretty surprised by how easily Everyday Hero Machine Boy swept aside my long-held antipathy to robot books as its heartwarming tale unfolded. Y’all, I cried, and copiously.
I don’t want to spoil too much about the book, but it is funny and sweet and packed with tons of mystery that slowly unravels as the story progresses. The art is absolutely fantastic, managing to be both adorable and emotional and kinetic all at once. There’s one montage near the beginning that really set me off crying: you’ll know it when you see it.
I really hope this is the first in a series, and am kicking myself for letting this book slip under my radar when it first came out in September. Hopefully, many other readers will discover it too and clamor for more. I’ll definitely be raising my voice to join theirs.
Everyday Hero Machine Boy by Irma Kniivila & Trí Vương was published September 13 2022 by Image Comics and is available from all good booksellers, including