REVIEW: Takio by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming

Takio
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Michael Avon Oeming
Colors by Nick Filardi
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
Created by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oeming, & Olivia Bendis

$9.95 / 96 Pages / Full Color

Icon / Marvel Comics

After months of teasing, previewing, and plugging, this week will finally see the release of Takio, the new graphic novel from the creative team that brought us Powers. In addition to its normal function as a piece of flat-out entertainment, Takio is also like some kind of complaint-seeking missile, targeting everything that comics’ loudest fans say we need more of: it’s a creator-owned, self-contained original graphic novel that’s new reader-friendly, female-friendly, and all-ages-friendly. No one can argue that it has an excellent mission statement, but how is it as a comic?

There was only one way to know for sure. Since Bendis collaborated with his daughter Olivia to write Takio, I decided to collaborate with mine when the time came to write the Takio review.

My kid is, after all, standing right in the bullseye of the target demographic: she’s a new reader, she’s a female reader, and she’s one of all the ages. Without any prompting from me (I swear) her favorite bedtime story is the Incredibles #1 I brought home from Comic Con two years ago, so the material is right up her alley. Having grown up in this household, she is also a lifelong Bendis fan, or at the very least she can honestly say that she loves him as much as any author she’s ever heard of.

With my fellow reviewer in my lap, I sat down to read the book and was immediately transfixed. Takio tells the story of seven-year-old Olivia and her older sister Taki, two siblings reluctantly joined at the hip by fiat from their overprotective mother. One night after school, Taki (with a chattering Olivia in tow) decides to go to her friend Kelly Sue’s house on the very day Kelly Sue’s mad scientist father has been fired, with his latest invention stolen right out from under him. Dad isn’t taking that news particularly well, and by the time his tantrum is over the girls have accidentally ended up chock full of super powers in a world where that sort of thing just doesn’t happen.

The particulars of the plot are best left for the reader to discover. Suffice it to say this is a classic origin story; as such, it does an excellent job of setting the scene but unfortunately ends right at the beginning of the chapter I really wanted to read. (Hopefully, this is the first volume of many.) The real joy of Takio is watching the all-too-familiar dynamic between the two siblings play out in their bizarre new set of circumstances. Anyone who has ever had to walk to school with a younger sibling will be onboard with this book within the first three pages, and even the only children have probably had a Kelly Sue or two in their lives. All of Brian Bendis’ strengths—fully realized characters, believable naturalistic dialogue—are on full display here, and Michael Avon Oeming’s art takes on a broad, expressive, dynamic quality perfectly suited to the story, especially once the superheroics kick in.

But that’s just my biased opinion.

As for my l’il peanut colleague, Takio was a bit of a harder sell at first. Like Taki, I’m an adopted child with an irritating younger sibling; my kiddo has much less to relate to. She isn’t annoyed by her kid brother yet (he’s too young to mess with her stuff); she hasn’t yet been to school and had to find a seat in the lunchroom; she hasn’t had a serious fight with a friend; she can’t, in the strictest sense, “read words.” For the first few pages, my colleague was confused as to why we were looking at this book instead of playing Punch-Out. She had a lot of questions about what was happening and why she should care. "Daddy, what is she doing?" was a common refrain.

But oh, brother, was she onboard with kung fu telekinesis. Once the superpowers kicked in at the book's halfway point, she was all ears. She has, in fact, spent the last three days striking chop-socky poses and crying, “HAAIII-YAAA! KUNG POO TELEKAHNEEBIS!” as she willed the cars/couch/coffee table/cat to split in two and scatter around the room with a frantic-yet-scarily-focused wave of her hand. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, this would  be some kind of wildly inappropriate marriage proposal.

Of course, Takio also proves that the phrase “all ages” is highly subjective. No, nobody strips naked in it and starts shrieking profanity, but as the grownup reader I still found myself creatively editing on the fly when we reached the part where Kelly Sue’s daddy is an unbalanced, terrifying a-hole and a bunch of adults start firing honest-to-Christ bullet-guns at little children. My kid has not yet been introduced to the fact that the world is a heartless, cynical pit of despair, and for now I’m going to hold the line there. I was having a hard enough time explaining why Kelly Sue’s mommy left before Kelly Sue’s daddy showed up with the armed mercenaries.

Even with the above caveats, Takio is an excellent read for both adult and relatively-worldly kid alike. For something that could never actually happen, it is the most relatable book of the year.
 

Story: 4 / Art: 5 / Kiddies Say: "I Like It, Daddy" / Overall: 4.5

(Out of 5)
 

Comments

  1. I’ve been waiting for this one, both the book and your review. Awesome!

  2. Awesome review, Jimski. Great idea to involve your young’un in this. Curious to see whether Bendis succeeds in his mission statement with this book. I know he’s aiming for kids and for it to be open and pleasing to female readers, but he made a fantastic point on last years Bendis tapes. He basically said when you write a minority character (or a female character) some people want that character to represent EVERYONE from that group, even though that isn’t possible and doesn’t make much sense. Curious to see reactions to this work from the “target” groups. Cool to hear your duaghter’s reaction. 

  3. going to get this for my goddaughter (6 yrs old), niece (9 yrs old), & nephew (5 yrs old).

  4. I know where your daughter is coming from, Jim. Sometimes, I try to extend claws from the back of my hands in the off-chance I became Wolverine overnight.

    Looking forward to reading this! It should be in my next DCBS shipment.

  5. Kelly (@annaluna) says:

    i clearly need to take lessons in how to read graphic novels to children.  we have a hard enough time getting through books like “there’s a monster at the end of this book” with C.

  6. I hope this will attract more girls to comics while Kirkman’s Super Dinosuar will attract boys. Of course, girls can read super dino while boys can read Takio, I’m sure as hell buying both. I also hope these will pave the way for a larger all-ages effort from the comics community. What better way to get people over their pre-conceived notions about all-ages books than some of the industry’s top talent working on them?