The Libertarian Stain


The most recent graphic novel from the much-lauded cartoonist Paul Pope is Battling Boy (First Second), a modern take on a youthful hero sent from an Asgard-like land of gods to protect a city from ghouls and monsters. The Comics Journal, a leading organ of comics criticism, likes the book. But because Pope has produced explicitly libertarian-themed comics in the past, reviewer Charles Hatfield complains that Pope's "broadsides against corrupt authority" are "acrid," adding: "Pope's libertarian streak reveals itself, again."

The authority in Battling Boy isn't really corrupt so much as it is striving to grab control of things outside its scope. More important: Fighting against corrupt authority is a longstanding adventure-story trope for kids, stretching from Robin Hood to Star Wars and beyond. What kind of bureaucratized soul would think a hint of anti-authoritarianism deserves censure? The kind, evidently, that needs to make sure anyone he can associate with libertarianism in any way knows he is eyed suspiciously.