Family Comic Friday: A Trio of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales
It’s been a very, very busy week here at OG! It’s SDCC week and that means tons of news releases and big reveals are hitting our news desk. Being so crazy here, I must confess that I forgot to read something for this week’s Family Comic Friday. But that’s okay because I have an archive full of great reads for kids of all ages!
This week, I decided to look at one of my favorite all ages series of graphic novels: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. These graphic novels look at some of American histories most lethal stories of courage, cowardice, and even cannibalism! The content might be a little intense, but it’s all true! But since it pulls no punches and actually looks at the gross and violent parts of history, it actually has a lot of appeal to readers aged 10-15. Plus it’s educational Mom and Dad!
Each story takes place during the Revolutionary War. Young Nathan Hale (no relation to series creator, Nathan Hale) tries to prolong his execution. In order to do this, he regales his captors with stories of America’s future, all thanks to his fortune-telling mole!
Let’s take a look at some of my favor offerings in this series. (My apologies that they are not in historical order.)
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, Published 2014)
I have to say, it took a history major in college, like myself, having to read a child’s graphic novel to finally understand what was behind the Great War! And I am not the only one who doesn’t know why it started. (Why even Rachel and Pheobe on FRIENDS once agreed that Mexico were the baddies in the War to End All Wars!)
Yes, everyone to some degree can say that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was the lynch-pin that set the whole thing off. But why was that guy’s death was so gosh darn important to start the biggest war in world history up that that point? Author Nathan Hale and his cartoon counterpart, the American patriot Nathan Hale cleared that up for me and what a way did he do it!
In a visual medium like a graphic novel, it’s nearly impossible to draft such a story for young readers to be able to understand. Some battles of World War I had armies from dozens of nations fighting at the same time, wearing the same looking uniforms. In able to help the reader keep these nation’s straight, Hale adopted the use of an animal for each party. For example, the British were represented by bulldogs while the Germans were falcons or hawks, a national symbol for both. It was pretty clever and I applaud Hale for doing it.
Even though Hale used funny animals to tell this tale, he didn’t make light of the situation. In fact, he even goes so far as to have the narrator of the story point out that this is such a serious and important moment in world history, that it wouldn’t be prudent to use such devices. But, the often confused Executioner character in this series points out the importance in keeping each army noticeable with using a symbol of national pride to keep each party from being confused with another. It’s a rather brilliant idea.
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor (Published 2015)
The subject of Hale’s latest tale is a young slave named Minty. Life has been hard for her, forced to work in dank swamps, is beaten by her superiors, and constantly in fear of being sold and moved away from her family. To make matters worse, Minty is struck with severe narcolepsy after a head injury. But Minty’s injury turns out to be a blessing in disguise as she gets visions during her sleeping spells. One such vision encouraged Minty to flee to the North.
The trek is fraught with danger as the girl must avoid bounty hunters seeking to recapture the runaway slave.
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Stars (Published 2016)
Patriot Nathan Hale takes his captors back through his magic history book on another adventure through the ages. Joining him this time around is his Mexican counterpart Vincente Guerrero and a trio of guards to give a comprehensive account of the battle of the Alamo and the struggle for Texas Independence. Like the book’s title suggests, the cast of players is an all-star lineup of Old West history including Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and that untamed wild man Jim Bowie.
Though this book is about a terrible tragedy and lots of people die, it’s not gory or overly graphic. There are a few swears, mostly mild and used in reference to quotes taken from actual documents- but they’re there.
And there you have a look at few of the Nathan Hale Hazardous Tales. There are currently 7 books in the series with #8 coming this October (Lafayette is currently #1 on Amazon’s Children’s History Comics List.) All of the books can be purchased on Amazon. There’s a 3-volume set that is a great deal as well as the perfect introduction to Nathan Hale and his trips through American history.
All of the books in the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series were published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams Books. All 8 are still in print and can be purchased for Kindle approved devices.
For more Family Comic Friday and other reviews, check out my blog: Madman with a Book!