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