Super Max is the ultimate hero, foiling the plans of the evil Dr. Malevolent with his 737 muscles (87 more than the average human) and an amazing head of hair. But when one of Dr. Malevolent’s plans finally works, Super Max is transformed into a potato! After several moments of despair, Super Max realizes that his super powers have remained intact through the transformation, and he has become Super Potato. While trying to force Dr. Malevolent to invent a “de-potato-izing” beam to change him back, Super Potato manages to continue his work of saving the city from the dastardly deeds of Dr. Malevolent, and only a few other townspeople are “potato-ized” in the midst of the chaos. While Dr. Malevolent is neutralized, other villains lurk, so there’s plenty more adventures waiting for Super Potato as the series continues.

Super Potato, vol. 1: The Epic Origin of Super Potato is crafted to be truly enjoyable for a wide range of readers. The storyline and dialogue are simple enough for developing readers to enjoy, yet the tongue-in-cheek humor provides a level of sophistication to give middle grade readers and even adults a good chuckle. At one point, Dr. Malevolent falls asleep and in a thought bubble above his head appears a saw sawing logs. In another scene, Super Potato dons the outfit from a Super Max action figure, as the narrator explains that the novelty was unpopular because its hair had a tendency to fall off, and the toy was discontinued due to hair-related complaints. Adding to the book’s humor is a self-referential narrative voice, mentioning details such as, “remember, we last saw the evil doctor laughing evilly seven pages ago…” This device not only helps younger readers to follow the storyline, but the humorous narration also adds a level of sophistication for older readers.

The full-color illustrations utilize a simple panel structure very accessible to young readers. Rare pages have more than four panels, with some containing only one, and some with two or three. The narration is set off in boxes, clearly distinct from the dialogue which is shown in traditional speech balloons. The protagonist is also easily distinguished as the good guy with rounded and colorful features, where Dr. Malevolent is thin and angular with a hook-shaped nose and pointed teeth. The layout is more characteristic of an early reader graphic novel than of a middle grade book because it is not overly demanding visually, and at 54 pages, it is also brief enough to be accessible to younger readers. Still, middle grade readers will not find the book babyish, as the illustrations themselves fit well in a middle grade comic.

While much more brief and not geared toward potty humor, Super Potato will be enjoyable to fans of Dog Man and other Dav Pilkey selections, as it tickles some of the same funny bones. This volume is a great intro to graphic novels for young readers, and will also be enjoyed by older readers. I found Super Potato, vol. 1: The Epic Origin of Super Potato delightful, and I look forward to future volumes in the series.

Super Potato, vol. 1: The Epic Origin of Super Potato 
by Artur Laperla
ISBN: 9781541526457
Graphic Universe, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 7-11

  • Kelly

    | She/Her Library Information Specialist, South Park Elementary School


    Kelly Jahng has studied English, history, and French, and taught middle school for sixteen years.She earned a masters in education along the way before changing hats and earning her MLIS at San Jose State University.She now works as the Library Information Specialist at South Park Elementary School in Deerfield, IL.She loves to collaborate with teachers in the school learning commons and to help students create in the makerspace.In her spare time, she loves to travel, enjoy theatre, read and review youth and YA literature, and write the occasional post for various blogs.

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