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Banana Fox & The Secret Sour Society | Review

Cover of Banana Fox and the Secret Sour SocietyBanana Fox and The Secret Sour Society
Writer/artist: James Kochalka
Scholastic; $7.99

How is it that the greatest detective who ever lived came by the unlikely name of Banana Fox? Is it because the detective, an anthropomorphic cartoon fox, is all yellow, save for the black tip of his tail, and his coloring therefore exactly resembles that of a banana? Is it because banana smoothies are his favorite beverage? Or is it instead that his creator, cartoonist James Kochalka, thought the name was a fun one to assign the star of a new series of graphic novels?

One has to assume the answer is some combination of all three, although the last option likely has to be given the most weight. Banana Fox and The Secret Sour Society is a new original graphic novel for kids from the prolific Kochalka, probably best known to young readers for his Johnny Boo, Glorkian Warrior, and Dragon Puncher comics.

Kochalka’s charmingly rough and simple art style, as well as his silly sense of humor, will be immediately familiar to anyone who has read those earlier works, although Banana Fox boasts a somewhat more complex and structured plot than the average Johnny Boo comic, being, after all, a mystery story…even if it is a simple one.

Flashlight, so named by Banana Fox because she carries a flashlight and he manages to cut her off and change the subject every time she tries to correct him and tell her what her name really is, finds the great detective working in a smoothie shop one day.

Having locked “the bad guy leader” Sour Grapes away in jail, Banana Fox has gone into retirement, being pretty sure there will never be any crime ever again, and he can devote himself to other pursuits, like attending meetings of the Banana Fox fan club.

But, Flashlight informs him, there’s reason to believe the Secret Sour Society is still actively committing crimes, now under the leadership of Sour Grapes’ son, Sour Grapes Junior. Luckily for B.F. and Flashlight (and the readers), Sour Grapes Junior’s criminal plans involve infiltrating the fan club itself, so our heroes end up dealing with the threat despite B.F.’s preference for attending meetings in his honor over crime-fighting.

Those plans involve a stolen turtle and the mind-control properties of Super Sour Soda, but to say any more about them might risk spoiling some of the twists and turns of the mystery, and, though kinda complex for a Kochalka kids comic, there aren’t that many twists and turns in the book. It is, after all, intended for rather young readers (although, as with most of Kochalka’s comics work, funny enough that adults can enjoy it, too).

I suppose it’s not spoiling anything important to reveal that Banana Fox triumphs over the Secret Sour Society,  and that our hero eventually learns Flashlight’s actual name and adopts her as his sidekick. Given how fast Kochalka creates comics, and the broad, Dog Man-like appeal of this book, I imagine it will be the first of many adventures featuring the yellow detective.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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