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Ye­hudi Mer­cado, Oni Press (MARCH) Soft­cover $12.99 (144pp) 978-1-62010-472-9

Ye­hudi Mer­cado blends sci­ence fic­tion, kung fu, and hip-hop in Sci-fu, a unique and en­ter­tain­ing graphic-novel ad­ven­ture.

In 1980s Brook­lyn, a young boy named Wax hap­pily spins and scratches vinyl un­til he in­ad­ver­tently an­swers an in­ter­ga­lac­tic call with his “rhyth­mi­cal scratch­ing sig­nal.” He and his fam­ily and friends are trans­ported to Dis­copia, a planet ruled by ro­bots who still ap­pre­ci­ate a good beat or rap when they hear it. Set up to chal­lenge the dom­i­neer­ing ruler of Dis­copia, Wax trains in the art of Sci-fu and be­gins to de­velop an ego. In the end, a wiser, hum­bled Wax tri­umphs—though only with the as­sis­tance of his pals.

Sci-fu is fast paced and un­de­ni­ably fun. An­tag­o­nists in­clude a fe­male ro­bot named Rap Punz L, an­other ro­bot named Ol’ Dirty Laun­dry, and a teddy bear-ish bad­die named Teddy Back­spin. Most of the char­ac­ters, good and bad, break into rap fre­quently through­out the book, and the quips of Spi­der-man or Dead­pool can’t com­pare to a fight se­quence punc­tu­ated by lines like “Son I’m gonna clock you go­ing eighty. Ol’ Dirty Laun­dry gonna make ya hate me.”

Though many ref­er­ences to the early days of hip-hop may be lost on younger read­ers, they aren’t crit­i­cal to the story; for those steeped in rap his­tory, they add an ad­di­tional witty and nos­tal­gic di­men­sion to the book. Mer­cado’s car­toon-style art matches the tone of his story—freestyling and in­no­va­tive at times, but al­ways en­gag­ing. With Sci-fu, Mer­cado has cre­ated an all-ages de­light.

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