Someone asked if their 12-year-old should read the comic book version of Battle Royale... a manga version of the disturbing Japanese book and movie published by Tokyo Pop - a respectable comic book company I have enjoyed.
The very fact that you are wondering about it tells me to answer 'No'.
If you know what the plot is about - and if not, read my summary HERE - then you already know that this is a violent piece of fiction.
Just because it's a comic book, does not mean it's for kids. In fact, if one were to examine the comic book industry as a whole, you would realize that comic books are really not for kids anymore. It is created for the male between the ages of 18-34.
Sometime during the 1980s, when DC created the Dark Knight 4-issue Prestige mini-series, comic books and super-heroes became dark. Comic book companies and writers everywhere soon tried to out-do each other, as the anti-hero became popular.
Heck, in the mid-1970s when Giant-Size X-Men #1 came out for Marvel comics, Wolverine was now part of the group. Granted he appeared earlier as a throw-away character in Hulk #181, but now he was part of what would soon become THE comic book phenomenon of the late 1970s and 1980s. Here's a character who while having cool mutant healing powers, tracking skills out the ying-yang and blades that essentially pop through his skin made of one of the hardest substances known to Marvel Comic's readers. I'm unsure if Adamantium (the metal his skeleton is made from or Vibranium (what Captain America's shield is made from and pretty much only found in the homeland of the Black Panther) is stronger. Adamantium, I think.
Back to the point (I am a comic book nerd, after all), comic books as a whole are not for kids. Again, back in the 1960s, DC turned Batman into the Dark Knight detective with stunning art from Neal Adams and words by Denny O'Neil, and those two got to gether again in the early 70s to make Green Lantern and Green Arrow go through all sorts of moral dilemmas.
Bane broke Batman's back. Superman died. Joker shot the woman who was Batgirl putting her in a wheelchair. Joker killed the second Robin - though he did come back from the 'dead' as Hush. Swamp Thing born in a fire. Batman born when his parents are gunned down in Crime Alley. Robin after his parents die in a trapeze act accident that was actually a murder.
Whoever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing. Iron Man - alcoholic. Spider-man born when a robber shots and kills his uncle Ben.
Comic books are violent - but kids read them and most of us turned out normal.
Battle Royale, as a concept is violent. The movie is violent. The comic book is sure to be violent.
Tell you what though... you have to know your kid. Is he susceptible to other people's ideas - I mean, is he a follower or a leader? Is he/she sensitive to violence or not.
We survived watching Bugs blow up Daffy et al. We know that in real life that's dangerous.
Does your kid know reality from fantasy. When I was 12, I did. I did when I was 8, even 6. I was old for my age.
If you want to be fair, buy the comic book. Read it yourself. If you find anything in it that disturbs you, you have your real answer.
And, for the record... this manga/comic book is not hiding anything. In fact, it shows more gore than the movie leaving little to the imagination.
I only hope I remember this when my six-year-old wants something questionable.