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Review: Leon: Protector of the Playground

Growing up as a child of the 1980s, Saturday Morning Cartoons was an actual event. Me, my sister, and my cousins would gather around the TV to watch our favorite shows and geek out over what happened in them. Many of the cartoons focused on fantastical elements and it was nice to travel to a different world, even if it was for just a half hour. It was rare for us to relate to the cartoons that we watched as much of what we saw never quite resembled us.

This all changed when we started watching Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids. Suddenly we started seeing images that resembled where we were growing up and presented a different shade than what we were used to seeing on television. The show not only gave us stories that were plausible, but they gave us the Brown Hornet, one of the first black superheroes on a cartoon. As the world has evolved and normalized to seeing it how is and not how it was, characters like the Brown Hornet endures. It was a positive representation of a persons of color, is what kids all over the world hang on to. In Jamar Nicholas’ Leon: Protector Of The Playground, we get one such hero, which not children of color can follow but any child can.

In “Back To School Shopping,” we meet Leon and his mother, Miss Magnificent, as he tries on different superhero suits to go back to school with, as we quickly find out even superheroes have tough taskmasters for mothers. In “First Day Of School,” we find our protagonist goes to a normal school, where he is the only superhero and where he is the center of attention and he has his own archnemesis, a girl named Clementine, and we are introduced to his rogues gallery, who all reside in the Treehouse of Tyranny. In “After School Special,” he vents to a local bakery owner of his woes at school, and the reader also sees his lair, The Magnificent Cave, which looks very much like a certain Dark Knight. In “A Problem with Bullies,” we meet the Tardy Boys, a group of ragamuffins,, who are all in detention , and are planning a caper which will set them free, that is until Leon and his friend, Carlos, who is in a bird costume, stops them in their tracks,  but that is not the only trouble the dup runs into, as the Brahma Bully,  as the reader sees his full power in action, common sense. In “Career Day,” his friends are frozen, and he must rescue them, as he enters Clementine’s interdimensional hyperspace bridge, to find out that the villain, The Monocle, has taken over the school, and which Leon, his friends and some retired superheroes fight to rescue the students, which they defeat including Leon beating Freon, the Ice Monster.

Overall, it’s a fun graphic novel which remembers that comics are for kids too. The story by Nicholas is clever, witty, and action packed. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, this is a hero we can all get behind, as what Iron Man and Batman would be, if they were smarter.

Story: Jamar Nicholas Art: Jamar Nicholas, Raen Ngu, and John Gallagher
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Leon, Protector of the Playground Debuts at Baltimore Comic Con

Kids Love Comics returns to the 2017 Baltimore Comic-Con this September 22nd, 23rd, and 24th at the Baltimore Convention Center. Kids 10 and under are free with the purchase of General Admission tickets.

Jamar Nicholas launches his all-ages graphic novel at BCC! What do you do when you’re a kid hero with the rarest super-power of all: common sense? Award-winning cartoonist and educator Jamar Nicholas tries to answer that question with his new graphic novel, LEON: Protector of the Playground, premiering in the Kids Love Comics area at the Baltimore Comic-Con. Jamar joins over 30 all-ages comics creators in this special family-friendly section of the show, where kids can meet artists and writers, and participate in comics workshops and classes throughout the weekend.

LEON combines a hip latchkey kid super-hero with hilarious super villains, such as Broccoli Ron, Mr. Nipsey the hamster bad-guy, and rogue hall monitors. All this, plus daily life in public school, makes a smart, super fun graphic novel read. LEON was created as part of the Comic Book Diner trilogy of books (including Buzzboy by John Gallagher and Roboy Red by Rich Faber, both of which will be available in the Kids Love Comics section). LEON combines elements of Jamar’s childhood with a diverse cast of kids and almost every child’s fantasy of being a super hero. But Leon must also face the harsh realities of a working mom, learning to work with others, and to clean up after himself when he eats.

Besides LEON, convention goers will also be able to get Jamar’s work on the BCC show program guide as well as on a special collectible BCC t-shirt.

LEON: Protector of the Playground, an original graphic novel, is a 144-page, full-color graphic novel, available at Jamar’s booth on LEON LANE in the Kids Love Comics section, for the first time anywhere.