Here’s what you need to know about Don Wood’s graphic novel Into the Volcano: it’s really, really good. The action is really good, the adventure is really good, the characters are really good, and the ending is really good. There is even a lot of comic book swearing (of the @#$% variety), and for many of the readers this book is aimed at, that alone makes this book worth reading.
When brothers Duffy and Sumo are offered the chance to stay with their mother’s family in the tropical island kingdom of Kocalaha, Sumo isn’t quite sure it’s a good idea. Sumo isn’t a big fan of hiking, climbing, swimming in the ocean, spiders, family he has never met before, or sleeping without a night light, so this surprise visit to paradise is like a nightmare come true for him. Naturally, Duffy takes every opportunity tease his brother for his timidity and whining. It isn’t until the two boys are forced to participate in what is supposed to be scientific expedition into the lava tubes of an active volcano, that Duffy accepts the fact that Sumo was right all along; their relatives are up to no good. As the boys race to escape from the tubes, Duffy is badly injured and Sumo must overcome his fears in order to save him before the volcano blows and their exit fills with lava.
Wood’s art style is perfect for a story that needs as much life and excitement as this one does. Using heavy blacks instead of lighter, more delicate outlines, and using color instead of inks to accentuate and highlight, the boys look more pouty, the adults more menacing, and the hot running lava seems to glow on the page. Into the Volcano is a coming of age story, as well as an adventure, much like Hatchet and the books by Will Hobbs. This is Sumo’s story, with Duffy acting as his foil, and author Wood doesn’t pull any punches….
Into the Volcano
By Don Wood
Blue Sky Press, 2008