Student Ambassador: The Missing Dragon TP
Publisher: Iron Circus Comics
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Price: $15.00
Creator(s): Ryan Estrada (writer); Axur Eneas (artist)
Format: 150 pgs., Full-Color, 6"x9", Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-9458-2060-1
Age Rating: 8-12
ICv2 Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

This story contains two of the most entertaining "how I spent my vacation" stories ever written, and yet, they’re flawed.  The main character wins an essay contest with the first of these, leading to the second.  Weirdly, this becomes a complicated action-adventure story for kids, involving a young king, a stolen statue, and several other things.

The story is set largely in a mythical nation very near to both Korea and Japan, one with a young, bored, spoiled ruler.  Joseph, the American boy being sent all over the world, is a youth ambassador who awkwardly becomes involved with efforts to communicate with this young king.  The story’s writer keeps trying to convince the reader that only Joseph has any sense, but then undermines that every time he does something stupid to endanger himself or the king.  Since this happens more than once, it feels odd.

The artwork is good, but not great, as the story mixes potentially deadly danger with very cartoony portrayals.  Still, there are some outstanding scenes in the book, including the "crocodile whisperer" interlude, and the story will appeal to kids who want stories in which kids are smarter than the adults around them.

The young king character may annoy some readers, but he eventually his personality does grow over the course of the story.

The target audience is children old enough to know a little bit about geography, money and comics.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.