The Lost Carnival: A Dick Grayson Graphic Novel, the most recent Young Adult title by DC, brings the beloved Boy Wonder and Teen Titan into the spotlight with a new backstory filled with mystery, magic and romance.
Written by Michael Moreci and illustrated by Sas Milledge, The Lost Carnival follows a young Dick Grayson as he experiences one truly magical summer that transforms his nomadic life at Haly’s traveling circus. It’s a story of discovery, in which a young future hero learns what he believes in and stands for. After this vibrant new adventure, readers may discover something as well…that they love the character even more than they did going into it.
Now let’s break it down!
The first thought that comes to mind when describing this cover is “Wow, that is an art-deco masterpiece!” With beautiful shades of midnight blue and gold, The Lost Carnival’s cover certainly feels magical. You see Dick Grayson at the top of the cover in his acrobat costume hanging over a Big Top tent, clearly letting the reader know that the story takes place in a circus.
At the bottom of the cover, you get the book’s new character—the mysterious and beautiful Luciana, Dick’s love interest in the novel. Their relationship, as you will discover, is complicated and anything but ordinary. However, as all first loves are, it is powerful, tender and bittersweet.
Although there are more characters in the graphic novel that readers will meet along the way—such as Dick’s family and his best friend, Willow—this story centers around the two main characters that you see here on the cover, and the overall design really sets an appropriate tone.
Tell Me A Story:
Every comic fan will know Dick’s origin story and the tragedy that ultimately befalls his family at Haly’s Circus, but this new story focuses on a time before all of that happened and it gives the readers a unique chance to see the complex bond between a teen Grayson and his acrobatic parents. Lots of angst occurs between the parents and their son, but one of the themes of this story is the importance of appreciating the time you have with your family and loved ones while you can.
The story also focuses on the other type of love developing between Dick and Luciana, however that isn’t spared of complications itself! You see, Luciana comes from the mysterious carnival that sets up right next to Haly’s Circus and begins to steal away all of Haly’s customers, which obviously causes a lot of tension between the two groups.
While the Romeo and Juliet-esque love story is taking place, a magical and otherworldly plot is unravelling at the same time that involves ancient, dark powers and other dimensions in which strange creatures reign supreme.
Let’s Talk Art:
The most astounding thing to me about this book’s art was the way colors were used to help guide the reader’s feelings. Colorist David Calderon effectively and quite brilliantly uses distinct color palettes to tell readers what setting they’re in. Blue tones come to the forefront when the story focuses on Dick’s life at Haly Circus, which echo the melancholy mood Dick is feeling before he meets Luciana and gets involved with the Lost Carnival.
Once that happens, warmer colors like yellows and oranges reign supreme. These colors emote a feeling of magic and brightness. It’s a feeling of being alive, and it allows the reader to feel some of what Dick is feeling when he’s with Luciana.
Of course, the great use of colors couldn’t take place without Milledge’s art. Her approach at drawing these characters for a Young Adult audience is nearly perfect, with the characters’ emotions in the foreground of all of her art, particularly in the eyes. Her work on the book’s settings is also very beautiful whether we’re talking about the gorgeous Lost Carnival scenes or the moments in the Other Dimension, which are more abstract. Readers will really feel as if they are in each setting themselves.
The dialog here is really vital because there are so many instances where the plot’s twists, turns and surprises could have been spoiled by hinting at too much during the conversations between the characters, but luckily that’s not a problem and all of the best surprises are left for the ending. If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely find yourself going “Wow!” at the end after everything is revealed.
Luciana is really an enigma and is brimming with secrets and mystery, something that’s built up even more through her dialog. She is sweet and loves talking to Dick, but she never reveals too much about herself until the end, much to Dick’s frustrations!
Favorite Teen Titan:
The Lost Carnival’s favorite Teen Titan would obviously be Nightwing! Although Dick isn’t a Teen Titan yet in this novel, he certainly demonstrates the future hero he is to become. He has the agility and abilities to move around quickly and fight off danger. He also has the most important aspects all heroes need—always doing the right thing and protecting innocents, including the people he loves.
Luciana can also definitely be compared to a Teen Titan herself. With her magical abilities, mystery and slight dark side, she would make a great partner to Raven herself!
Most Crushworthy Character:
This is another no-brainer, but Dick Grayson all the way. Not only is he an incredibly talented young individual, but his passion and his kind heart make him extremely swoonworthy in The Lost Carnival. The way that he not only protects his best friend and family but also his newfound love in Luciana is something every guy should aspire to do. And as he professes his love to Luciana, you can’t help but have your heart melt.
Perfect Food Pairing:
This graphic novel is so fun in part because it really immerses you into the world of carnivals and circuses. The imagery is so vivid, it just makes you crave all of those deliciously decadent foods you would see at a carnival. Why not enjoy this story while indulging in some popcorn, some cotton candy or even a delicious caramel apple! Anything salty and sweet is the perfect snack to enjoy alongside this scrumptious book.
Amanda Levine loves everything DC, especially Harley Quinn, whom she often cosplays. Her favorite Young Adult books have always been Harry Potter and the amazing world that J.K. Rowling created.
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