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Comix Portal: (P)Review:

Kickstart’s ‘Danger Academy’

Pulled from:; December 2011

Looking for a fun gift for that comics reader on your holiday shopping list? You should pick up Kickstart’s Danger Academy by Tony Lee and Dan Boultwood. It’s such a good spy story that it had James Bond-style music playing in my head as a I read it.

Here’s the book’s description: “Spychester Academy for Gifted Teens, the secret private school where the children of superspies go to be safe – but when their parents are missing, only these students can save them!”

One of the things I look for in a book is when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are a lot of allusions to other spy franchises and comics, such as the “Dangerous Room” or the evil organization called S.M.A.S.H., which stands for Secret Militaristic Agency of Sadistic Hatred. That group sounds SO “Bond!”

But the sequence that made me laugh out loud was that every new student gets labeled “John Smith” to protect their identities. (Eventually, they get their own codenames, like Numbers or Hand Me Down.) When one teacher took roll call for a class full of newbies, it was quite funny. They’re all named “Smith,” of course, and the script plays it for excellent comedic effect.

Don’t think that this is only a comedy, though! The action and adventure is fast-paced and pulls you from page to page. Not everyone survives, and that ups the level of our interest and uncertainty. And there are several mysteries that need solving, so there’s a lot going on! And always beware of a spy named Kitka! You just never know what she’ll do next!

Even though the students are all the children of spies, they each have their own unique personalities. Some want to be spies, some don’t, for example. The main “John Smith” in Danger Academy is the son of a famous female spy, and that turns out to be both a good and bad thing for him. He’s trying hard to reconnect with his Mom, and they link up in an unexpected way.

Of course, there are some similarities to the Harry Potter series of novels in that the school’s teachers play interesting roles in the tale and bring their own unique aspects to what’s going on. I liked the one named Doc Violent the most!

The art has something of a comic-strip or cartoon-like feel, which helps keep the tone light. It fits the feel and pacing of this story very well indeed!

I’ve always bragged on Kickstart because to date they’ve released books that have self-contained stories. Well, be careful when you start to expect things to always follow the same pattern! I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say that we haven’t seen the last of Spychester Academy for Gifted Teens! This book may be released this Wednesday where you are, or it could show up next week! Keep an eye out for it either way!