Starting two generations back from the events of the familiar saga, Fajardo breathes a new life into the tale of Beowulf. In his inventive interpretation, Beowulf and Grendel are twin brothers, resulting from a generations-old blood oath between Beowulf’s grandfather Hrothgar and a delightfully snarky and ferocious blue dragon, an entertaining back story that occupies most of the book. His fate sealed long before his birth, Beowulf—a kind and brave young boy rather than a vicious monster-killer—must learn about his past while confronting his destiny. As the heir to the throne of a land that’s fractured by long-standing feuds and facing dwindling food supplies, Beowulf has many important choices before him, leaving lots of room for subsequent installments. Told in richly imagined comic panels, this offering is visually arresting, with an array of eye-popping colors that positively demand attention from readers. The aftermatter is abundant and well-wrought, offering key terms, historical origins and explanations, a family tree, maps, and lessons on drawing and comic-book making. Fajardo not only makes “Beowulf” accessible for younger readers, he makes it interesting and edifying without any dilution.
What Rick Riordan did for the Greek gods, Fajardo has done for “Beowulf”: magnificent. (character list) (Graphic fantasy. 7-13)