Author and Artist: Mike Maihack
176 Pages–Ages 8-12 (and up) (Book 1: Target Practice)
192 Pages—Ages 8-12 (and up) (Book 2: The Thief and the Sword)
Published by: GRAPHIX on April 29, 2014 (Book 1) and April 28, 2015 (Book 2)
Summary of Target Practice (from amazon.com):
When a young Cleopatra (yes, THAT Cleopatra) finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, REALLY far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octavian. She enrolls in Yasiro Academy, a high-tech school with classes like algebra, biology, and alien languages (which Cleo could do without), and combat training (which is more Cleo’s style). With help from her teacher Khensu, Cleo learns what it takes to be a great leader, all while trying to figure out how she’s going to get her homework done, make friends, and avoid detention!
Summary of The Thief and the Sword (from amazon.com):
Cleopatra’s space adventure in the REALLY far future continues!
A mysterious thief has stolen the ancient sword Cleo recovered in Book One: Target Practice, and she’s determined to get it back. But her teachers at Yasiro Academy forbid her from risking her life, so she’s stuck at school, trying to adjust to her newfound popularity and responsibility. And when she learns more about the prophecy that names her the savior of the galaxy, she must go on a dangerous journey to find the time tablets that could decide her fate… before they fall into the wrong hands!
I first learned about this graphic novel from a free sample I received on Free Comic Book Day. I must admit that the title didn’t really appeal to me. I mean Cleopatra in Space? It sounds like one of those books that purposely puts two totally opposite things together to get the readers attention, and then focuses immensely on the difference between the two when I already know that they are different.
When they put two totally different things together to try to appeal to as many audiences as possible. When you try to please all audiences you usually end up pleasing none.
This book was loads of fun and was much better than I thought it would be. I’ve only read a handful of graphic novels, so I’m still sort of getting used to the genre. Most of the time when I read books that tell a story with pictures I read the 32 page comics that you find on a newsstand. The pacing for Target Practice was really good and was able to keep me hooked right from the start. It was fun getting to know Cleopatra and see her in her new surroundings. The second book, The Thief and the Sword, was also a lot of fun but I felt that it went by too fast. I read on the authors website that the third novel The Secrets of the Time Tablets will be the conclusion to the first story arc so it may be that The Thief and the Sword was simply intermediate ground and The Secrets of the Time Tablets will be a ground shaking conclusion to a story arc (one hopes anyway). Regardless, it didn’t feel like much happened in The Thief and the Sword except that the sword, Cleopatra risked her life to get in Target Practice gets stolen by a new character. What the second book did manage to do for me is whet my appetite for the third. I can hardly wait until The Secrets of the Time Tablet goes on sale.
These book were funny and I’m surprised that I like the mesh of Cleopatra being in space. She does adapt rather quickly and doesn’t seem to show much remorse at leaving her home behind, but if you can suspend your disbelief about that then it turns out to be a pretty fun story. The cast of characters are extremely cute and I love the character design of Cleopatra. The gold streaks in her hair and her little crown are the most adorable things ever. The gadgets are also fun to look at, such as Cleo’s sphinx shaped bike. Cleo, as her friends call her, is a feisty young girl whose strongest talent is being a sharpshooter. She’s got an attitude as big as her presence in pop culture, she doesn’t seem to understand the word “authority,” and she’s a bit trigger-happy. Just the kind of character I love to read about. This girl is one cool drink of water. The secondary characters are also fun, but not as inspired as Cleo.
It’s pretty obvious who she’s going to fall in love with/get a crush on/end up with. I mean the guy’s name is Antony! Unless of course, true to the story Antony dies in the end after Octavian attacks them so Cleopatra can’t end up with him. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that Octavian will come out on top at the end of this book series. Regardless, sparks are going to fly! I’m dying to see more of Antony, so I’m hoping that the third book has plenty of him.
The art is pretty to look at and uses a full range of colors. I enjoyed how the characters as well as the setting were designed. It isn’t a terribly original looking world, but it’s easy to follow along with. I’m excited to see more of this futuristic world in future installments.
Overall, I would recommend the graphic novel. It definitely has a juvenile tone to it and doesn’t exactly have a complex storyline, but I enjoyed it because it was easy to follow. My little sister also loved it (and she’s actually part of the target audience), so younger kids will probably love it also. There is mild violence, but it’s toned down for the younger audience. It is definitely a solid, worthwhile read.
Some Previews of the Books (Either click on the text or on the image):