Hilo: The Great Big Boom Review: Outstanding Fun For Kids Of All Ages


What’s that in the sky? Is it a bird, or a plane? No, it’s Hilo, and his pals DJ and Gina! What sort of adventures are they up to this time?

Hilo Book 3: The Great Big Boom

Writer/Artist/Creator: Judd Winick

Colorist: Steve Hamaker

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Outside of the weekly grind of comic books that come out at shops or digital devices is the young adult market. Crafting graphic novels for young adults (or, kids) has become a booming industry. So much so that nearly every major publisher devotes a wing of its line to it. Even Marvel and DC Comics commission projects for this market (such as Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl or DC Super Hero Girls). Penguin Random House is no exception, and Hilo is one of their featured series.

Image by Penguin Random House

Created by Judd Winick, Hilo is in many ways the story of Daniel Jackson Lin, or “DJ.” The middle child of an overachieving family, he felt left out when his best pal Gina left his small town. That all changed when a mysterious boy fell to earth. He proved to be a robot from another universe named Hilo. Over the course of two volumes the two of them, alongside Gina, have shared no end of adventures. All are involved in Hilo’s long term battle against the robotic despot Razorwark.

After a Recap, It’s Upward and Onward!

In the previous volume (“Saving The Whole Wide World”), the trio faced an influx of invaders from another universe via portals opening all over town. It was all a scheme by Razorwark to return, and a horde of vegetable aliens called the Rapscallions almost took over. More of Hilo’s hidden memories and origins were revealed, and they made a new friend in Polly, a cat-girl wizard. In defeating Razorwark, Gina was accidentally sucked into a portal, and the army had shown up!

Image by Penguin Random House

Hilo and DJ use a little magic and a lot of imagination to trick their way out of an army holding camp. DJ is determined to rescue Gina, and the pair quickly rocket towards another portal after her. They find themselves on a world where lizard people ride giant hamsters, and then things get weird. Fortunately, they are reunited with both Polly and Gina; the latter of whom has learned some magical skills. It all leads to Great Boomba, king of the dinosaur people, and Razorwark too!

The volume repeats many of the series’ reoccurring gags. Hilo’s catch phrase is “Outstanding!” or thinking that screaming “Aaahh!” is a greeting. Some act of grossness like burping or barfing is usually followed with, “Repeat business.” The previous volume is recapped in the opening pages. Yet Winick is wise to always blaze forward on a new adventure which bares little resemblance to the last. This time, it’s the heroes who are the invaders in another world, not vice versa.

Huzzah, This Is a Great Series!

As with every volume, there is a mixture of action, humor, and seriousness. Hilo’s tragic past is dealt with mostly straight, involving his reasoning behind rebelling against Razorwark with Dr. Horizon. There are plenty of jokes dealing from unique word puns to some childlike gross out gags, but also plenty of conjecture as to what makes a hero. Once Razorwark shows up or is even mentioned, nobody jokes around. Great Boomba, in contrast, is too dumb to be scary.

Image by Penguin Random House

Judd Winick, a former star of MTV’s The Real World, has gone on to write plenty of comics like Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow. His first graphic novel, Pedro and Me, dealt with having a pal with AIDS. On Hilo, he’s almost a one-man show in writing and drawing the whole shebang. The tale of a robot kid superhero may remind some of Mega Man, but the roots of that go far deeper, to Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy (or Mighty Atom). The world of Hilo remains totally unique.

Every Volume of Hilo Is a Blast!

Winick has captured the spirit of a child within this series. From DJ’s perspective to many of the jokes the kids tell or play on each other, it’s all from a genuine point of view. Yet Winick hasn’t forgotten that kids are often smart, as well as not beyond dealing with serious or even scary things. DJ often serves as the point-of-view character, since he’s the one without any major skills or powers other than loyalty. His best skill is being a friend, which is the greatest power of all.

Next: See Lucy & Andy Neanderthal, another fun all ages series!

Hilo is everything one would like in a fun and engaging all ages franchise. The humor is genuinely funny, and every page abounds with imagination. The cast are all memorable, and are challenged in each story by new circumstances and threats. Polly is developed a bit more in this volume, continuing the theme of everyone’s family being a bit nuts when looked at by outsiders. Going on sale February 21st, comic fans of all ages are in for an outstanding time with this volume of Hilo.