I’m going to pay this book the best compliment that I can think of… it surpasses the first volume in every way. Now before I go any further if you haven’t read Battling Boy (shame on you) then you should stop reading this review and go do that first. The reason being is that there is a spoiler and even though the book is only two years old, I know that some people are still discovering it and so I don’t want to ruin that book by talking about what’s already known as fact in this book. In The Rise of Aurora West we truly saw the rise of Aurora as a character. The catch being that we know where her story is going because this is all a prequel to Battling Boy. Now with any other prequel you’d be like, “yeah, yeah, I know where this is going.” But not with the Aurora West series. In fact, Paul Pope and JT Petty almost play off your arrogance of knowing where the story is going. They do that by giving you a cat and mouse game of when is the story going to line up with Battling Boy? And at the end of this volume it does and doesn’t. It leaves you just outside the range which I thought was satisfying and brilliant. Frankly, you don’t want to have overlapping accounts of the same story as it invalidates the work previously done.
To quickly recap the first volume, The Rise of Aurora West, we learn that Aurora’s imaginary friend was in fact real and very evil. He turns out to be Coil and a part of Sadisto’s gang. He also may in fact be the murderer of Aurora’s mother. This information is the driving force behind all of Aurora’s actions in this volume.
With that said, this is not a cheap prequel. I can’t express this enough. You will learn what happened to Aurora’s mother and its pretty shocking who’s involved or at least who plays a role in her death. On top of that the story leads you to believe (Battling Boy Spoiler coming up) that Haggard West is going to die in this volume as well. Instead you’ll see why his death was so terribly tragic. While it was sad in BB, it’s even sadder now that we’ve gotten to know the character, see what drives him and seen the family that he leaves behind.
Once again Paul Pope and JT Petty make for a wonderful collaboration. This is a well-plotted story that not only stands on its own, but adds to the volume before and the story that follows it. Aurora doesn’t go through a lot of development, but what she does go through is significant and character defining. There’s a reveal in this issue that is deep and dark. Darker than what you’re probably expecting, but it’s the same maturity that made the Battling and Rise so damn good as well. To put it plainly, it’s really messed up, but you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the writers and the characters they’ve crafted.
This is where David Rubín shines. No offense to his work at BOOM!, but his work here is leaps and bounds better. As I said about the first volume, he’s clearly influenced by Paul Pope, but he brings his own flair to the book. His work here is emotional on many levels. He captures anger, rage, overwhelming sadness and the pure evil of the monsters. His art work is fluid and that translates to the action in the perfect way.
In particular, the flashbacks were brilliant this time around. They felt natural to the story in a way that they couldn’t in the first volume. That’s a nod to the writing as well, but it’s Rubín’s artwork that brings about this sharp contrast of the happy past and the gloomy present. I would love to see Rubín’s artwork crossed over into the main series at some point as it would just be a nice touch, but I’m more than happy to have him on the Aurora side of things and hope that there’s more to come.
Honestly I feel like I haven’t told you anything about this book, but hopefully I’ve given you enough info to inform your purchase. You should buy this is you are following the series and you should definitely be following the series. If you haven’t read Battling Boy or The Rise of Aurora West then you’re probably wondering if you can start here and the answer is yes.
This volume gives you all the info you need to start your journey and because the other two chapters also stand on their own, they’ll only be enriched by reading The Fall of the House of West. The main point is that you should be reading this series because it’s the best superhero stories being told in comics to date. Nothing is even remotely close to being as good.
Score: 5/5 (Really I could break the scale for this book it’s that damn good)