Calamity Jack

Calamity Jack
Calamity Jack review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Bloomsbury - 978-07475-8742-2
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Bloomsbury - 978-15999-0373-6
  • Release date: 2010
  • UPC: 9781599903736
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Adventure, Children

This is a companion piece to Rapunzel’s Revenge, in which Jack, he of beanstalk fame, was introduced. In that book they teamed to rescue Rapunzel’s mother, and here it’s Jack’s mother who has problems.

The previous book hinted at Jack’s criminal past, and we discover just how that all began, starting at a very young age with The Sugarbowl Plan, progressing through The Failed Flamingo Filching, to The Fat Banker Fiasco, until we arrive at The Blunderboar Business. When that went pear shaped Jack had to head out of town pretty quick. It’s during his wanderings that he meets the resourceful Rapunzel, with whom he returns to Shyport.

A lot has changed since Jack left town after his beanstalk accident. Shyport is under siege, living in fear of giant ant-people who raid the streets, and are barely kept in check by the giant police. There’s an undercurrent of fear and intimidation, and the giant Blunderboar is more influential than previously.

As with Rapunzel, this is written by children’s novelist Shannon Hale with her husband Dean, and drawn by the entirely unrelated Nathan Hale. He delivers large, clear, pictures and a distinctive cast in tune with the intended audience of pre-teens. The plot meshes fairy tales, westerns and steampunk, with a nod towards superheroes given how adept Rapunzel is at using her braids of hair. It also encompasses a version of the original beanstalk story.

The real surprises are few for adult readers, although there’s one extremely good one set in the sewers, but they ought to enthral children. Overall, though, this is slightly weaker than its predecessor.