Friday, March 5, 2010

Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher by Jake Parker

Missile Mouse is a Galactic Security Agent, charged with keeping the universe safe from the Rogue Imperium of Planets. RIP have gotten their hands on a scientist with the ability to create a doomsday device that could destroy whole galaxies. It’s up to Missile Mouse and his new partner, Hyde, to get him back and stop the RIP.

Just from that brief description, this doesn’t sound like the type of book that I would like. It has two elements that I avoid in fiction. First off, there’s talking animals, albeit alien talking animals. Missile Mouse is a mouse (duh!) and his partner appears to be some sort of hairy pig thingy. Plus there are shark men. Talking animals are a big no-no in my book. Next, that doomsday device? It’s a weaponized black hole. So called “hard” sci-fi loves black holes – they go off into innumerable pages of technobabble about the creation and maintenance of these giant suck balls – but plot and characters tend to go bye when a black hole enters the picture.

Despite the presence of two Merideth repellants, I really liked this book. Why? Well, a big part of it is Jake Palmer’s art. Palmer has an animation background, and it shows. His panels are dynamic and full of motion, and the layout is not just a progression of squares. The character designs are witty and imaginative, even those dreaded shark men. Clear, bright colors make this book really pop.

Also, Palmer doesn’t let himself get bogged down in the science part of his sci-fi. This book is really more of a space based adventure that rotates around a missing scientist. The plot is not a new one, and it might even read as trite to savvy readers. However, the fun and energy that Palmer puts into his story is infectious, and tween readers will quickly get into the spirit.

This would be a great choice for a reluctant reader in the 8-12 year old range, but I think it does have some all-ages appeal.  I'm sure Missile Mouse will have more adventures, and I am looking forward to them.

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