Goodreads: Mighty Jack
Series: Mighty Jack #1
Jack is not looking forward to an exciting summer. His mom is working two jobs and he will have to stay home to care for his sister Maddy, who never talks. Then, one day, Maddy and Jack trade their mother’s car for a box of seeds. Jack has never seen Maddy so enthusiastic. But the garden they grow is magical–and dangerous. Do they have the courage and the strength to face the garden?
Mighty Jack is a graphic novel I have seen around for years, but I never felt very interested in reading it. I have read Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl and was not totally in love, as many reviewers seem to be. However, Mighty Jack was available when I was searching for something new, so I decided to give it a chance. I am so glad I did.
Mighty Jack, in many ways, serves mainly as an introduction to what clearly is conceived of as a grander, world-crossing adventure. Jack is stuck at home during the summer so he can watch his sister Maddy while their mom works. He is not initially thrilled about it, but, when they plant some seeds that turn out to to be magical, things get a lot more exciting. The bulk of the book is Jack, Maddy, and their new friend Lilly–a badass, sword-wielding girl who lives down the way–trying to figure out what their new plants do and whether they are life-threatening or just slightly dangerous. Readers will be just as intrigued to see each new seed sprout.
The book is fast-paced and engrossing, even if the world-hopping has not yet begun. It is fun to watch Jack grow in strength and confidence as he faces down each new challenge, always goaded on Lilly who, admittedly, comes off as a bit more heroic than Jack, or at least more skilled. She is the one who can wield a sword and shoot an arrow. She is the one always ready for a new adventure. She is the one who has a real interest in the plants and what they can do. This can be a little awkward, since, at times, one wonders if Lilly should not really be the titular character, rather than Jack. But their friendship is sweet, and Lilly helps draw out the best parts of Jack.
Mighty Jack feels likes some solid childhood fun, with all the adventures of a lazy summer daydream come to life and rolled into one action-packed story. Anyone who has ever dreamed of wielding a sword, finding a magical world, or speaking with a dragon will be enchanted with Ben Hatke’s graphic novel. It feels like a classic adventure. And, thankfully, it’s only the start.