Clock Striker, Vol. 1: “I’m Gonna Be a SMITH!”

Quarto/Rockport. (Saturday AM TANKS/Clock Striker). Feb. 2023. 224p. pap. $13.99. ISBN 9780760381571.
Gr 7-10–In this manga-style graphic novel, Cast is a young Black girl determined to help her family by becoming a SMITH, a legendary group of engineering fighters. Unfortunately, there are a number of problems with her plan; her town doesn’t offer many educational opportunities, the SMITHs were thought to have been destroyed in the last war, and having only one hand means Cast’s teacher doesn’t believe she can do the complex tasks required for the position. When a mysterious substitute teacher takes an interest in Cast, she is given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove her dedication as a SMITH’s apprentice. Cast’s situation quickly changes from a life of limited possibilities to an epic journey of nonstop skirmishes as she uses science and combat skills to protect the helpless. Following in the tradition of action-packed shonen manga, this title leads readers through a steampunk world of gloriously excessive fight scenes where the villains consistently underestimate Cast and her mentor’s abilities. The energetic black-and-white illustrations perfectly convey the over-the-top intensity of both the fight scenes and Cast’s spirited personality.
VERDICT This action-packed graphic novel adventure featuring tenacious female leads will leave shonen manga fans counting down to future volumes.

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