Joe marshals superhero skills and gadgets inspired by his comic books to combat the titular creature next door.
When the sweet next-door neighbors move to Florida, Joe realizes that his dream of mastering the scary ladder to their treehouse is leaving with them. Someone new and unknown is moving into his territory, and this oversized person seems able to climb the rope ladder with ease. Joe’s imagination goes into overdrive as he watches the creature, scenes from his comic books racing through his head. The creature might come from a haunted castle or outer space; he might want to steal Joe’s toys and comics; he might even be a giant. When Joe finally makes his way over to meet the new family, he is pleasantly surprised. What lifts this comic tale above the ordinary new-kid-on-the-block offering is its sense of humor and detailed, throwback comic-book art. Crosshatching and tiny vertical lines add drama and depth to each spread, and the use of gray, blue and purple perfectly accents Joe’s overactive imagination. The visual playfulness (including a riff on The Cat in the Hat) and dramatic comic-book language (invincibility, lair, radiance, infiltrate) make this one to reread. When he imagines the new kid calling him a shrimp, Joe is drawn as an actual sea critter!
For anyone who has an interior superhero. (Picture book. 4-8)