Graphic novelist Mercado celebrates the joy of hip-hop.
This fun, candy-colored Afrofuturist saga set in 1980s Brooklyn introduces 13-year-old budding DJ Wax; his ice cream truck–vendor uncle Rashaad (he swears in ice cream flavors); his pizza-deliverer–turned–best-friend, Cooky P; and his brainy, truth-telling little sister The D, the tale’s real hero. The story opens as Wax produces a colossal sonic disaster (according to his family) for his crush, Pirate Polly. The lovingly honest criticism spurs Wax to try again—and, in the process, he transports them all to a Blade Runner–inspired world called Discopia, accidentally kills King Chug Chug, its ruler, and calls forth a mentor, Kabuki Snowman, who teaches the teenager Sci-Fu, described as “a mix between a martial art and a musical instrument…to manipulate and modulate the sound waves around you” in order to defeat the king’s son Choo Choo and his mixed-gender crew, the Five Deadly Dangers. This trippy, psychedelic adventure, with chapters labeled like album tracks, is as much a call and response to Vijay Prashad’s Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting (2002) and a riff on astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson’s comment that all of the universe is literally made of stardust as it is a not-so-subtle visual reference to Samurai Jack’s villain Aku and a nod to Get Out’s lifesaving-friendship trope.
A lighthearted tale with black and brown characters, matter-of-fact Brooklyn bilingualism, and a solid message of creating through failure and love. (Graphic science fiction. 10-14)