Today is the release day for The Thief and the Sword, by Mike Maihack (Scholastic), the second graphic novel installment of Cleopatra's adventures far from her home in ancient Egypt. In the first book, young Cleopatra triggered a time travel device that sent her off to a galaxy far in the future, where civilization is threatened by an evil megalomaniac, wise cats are part of the governing council, and where Cleopatra's arrival, and her role as savior of the galaxy, were predicted in an ancient prophecy!
Target Practice, is tremendously exciting--not only does it set the lovely story in motion, but there's also Adventure in which Cleo goes off to an alien planet to recover an ancient artifact, a fabled sword, fighting off aliens and robots in the process. The Thief and the Sword is something of a falling back and regrouping story. We see Cleo navigating her new reality of school (some things, like Algebra, transcend space and time), and making progress on becoming friends with, and learning about, her young classmates. For instance, she goes to a school dance for the first time....And I like this slower sort of stuff, so there were no complaints from me (too many panels showing fighting and my eyes get confused--I am a weak graphic novel reader/looker), though my older son found it a bit too slow for his taste.
But all is not peaceful in Cleo's new world (even setting aside the constant threat of universal destruction). A young thief, a boy named Antony, is hired by the evil megalomaniac to steal the sword Cleo had recovered, and since this particular sword is involved in the prophecy about Cleo saving the galaxy, it must be found again! So Cleo, her friends, and a wise cat professor set off into space to track it down....and book two ends with a cliff hanger that promises lots of action to come!
This series just cries out to be given to fans of Zita the Space Girl, by Ben Hatke--Zita is perhaps more lovable, and her motivations are different, but Cleo is also a charming heroine to root for--headstrong, plucky, struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants, and cute as a button! And the world building of Cleopatra in Space is lovely too--I adore the talking cats. And the addition of Antony promises lots of new character interest--he has lots of potential!
The time travel element of the plot is more overtly addressed here, and an explanation for how it worked, and what might happen if the bad guy got a hold of the mechanism, are part of the story. Cleo also has more of a chance to think about her circumstances, adding a touch of depth to the story (not much more than a touch--Cleo is not the most deeply introspective heroine, being more liable to pull out her stun-gun than quietly think things through!).
This is a nicely multicultural series-- Cleo is somewhat pink-washed on the cover of this installment, which is too bad, but inside her skin tone is definitely browner than many of her peers, and Antony, also shown on the cover, is brown-skinned (ostensibly he's a bad guy in this book, but I bet that changes!).
In any event, my boys and I are looking forward to Book 3 with enthusiasm and conviction!
Disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher