Thursday, April 12, 2018

Tyrannosaurus Ralph by Nate Evans and Vince Evans

Another average boy makes big in this wacky, Captain Underpants-like adventure. On his way home from school, Ralph is attacked by a bully who threatens him with a "honk-kazoo" or tuba. But he's got bigger problems when a tyrannosaurus rex shows up and squashes him! Ralph wakes up in the secret lab of weird, tattooed Professor Overdrive (the junkman from down the street) and his stereotypical Igor-like assistant, Lugnut. Turns out an even bigger bully, the alien Clobberus Crunch, is threatening to destroy Earth unless they send a representative to fight in his arena. Overdrive couldn't get anyone to listen, so he fired up his time machine and grabbed a dinosaur from the past...which stomped Ralph. So he put Ralph's brain in the dinosaur.

Ralph is not thrilled at being suddenly expected to fight all sorts of terrifying aliens, especially when he realizes he's up against even bigger bullies than he was on earth. But to save earth, his new friend Joona, and himself, he's going to have to find some courage somewhere and fight back.

Splashy color and wild hijinks abound on every page. There's plenty of cartoon violence, but no real gore, even if there's a lot of serious issues going on. The wacky aliens and Ralph's horror at being forced into a sort of Luchador fighting suit are played for laughs while Joona is sexually harassed and threatened by the evil alien general and admits to having been outcast and abandoned by her people because of her differences. Although Ralph wins out in the end, the story isn't over - he might get pulled back to fight at any time - and he has some pangs of conscience about scaring off his bullies on earth by being a bigger bully.

Overall, however, everything is played for laughs and it's the kind of adventure that Captain Underpants fans are sure to love. As an adult, I find the "average or wimpy boy saves the day" trope to be annoying and overused, but at least Ralph is not white. The humor is mostly pretty childish and while the threats against Joona and earth are definitely mature, they're likely to go right over the heads of the target audience for this, which is definitely below the Pilkey Line.

Verdict: Add where you have lots of fans of Captain Underpants and other gross and silly comics.

ISBN: 9781449472085; Published 2017 by AMP!; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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