Indie Comics Spotlight: 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1, Legend #1, and Joyride #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1


1

“Now let’s get all of this cleaned up before my dad – ”

The saying goes that kids say the darnedest things. Clearly they have to get what they say from somewhere and sometimes that somewhere is from observing some less-than-stellar individuals. It’s not often, though, that the kids can hold their own against the aforementioned individuals, but it happens in 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1 from Black Mask Studios. The issue is written by Matthew Rosenberg, illustrated by Tyler Boss, flatted by Clare Dezutti, lettered by Thomas Mauer, and wallpaper design by Courtney Menard.

A fun(ish) crime caper about children! Eleven-year-old Paige and her weirdo friends have a problem: a gang of ex-cons need her dad’s help on a heist…the problem is those ex-cons are morons. If Paige wants to keep her dad out of trouble, she’s going to have to pull off the heist herself.

While the title sounds like the start of a bad joke, Rosenberg ensures that 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank is something with a much more enjoyable punchline. The introduction of the four kids is pretty fantastic and is done in direct contrast to that of the ex-cons in that there’s a clear juxtaposition of personality traits between the two groups. Rosenberg cleanly presents all the players to the reader in a rapid-fire way that still manages to give each one plenty of unique traits so that they all don’t feel like one big jumble. The dialogue really helps in this regard since Rosenberg doesn’t shy away from crass language where appropriate. The ending of the first issue also offers a very intriguing set-up when compared to the rest of the issue, serving almost as a misdirect of sorts.

The artwork by Boss is very minimal and evokes old-school Archie comics. He relies on extremely simple and clean lines for all the characters who also work with equally minimalistic backgrounds. Each of the characters (both kids and ex-cons) are very expressive in a way that’s befitting of their personalities. Boss also stacks the pages with crowds of panels, including a few pages that boast as many as 24 small, square panels that give all the kids their own part in a much larger conversation. Most of the issue also resides in washed-out tones that adds a flashback mentality to the work to help enforce the older vibe pervasive throughout the issue.

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1 is a very spirited story that blends elements of Peanuts and Quentin Tarantino into something that also boasts the nerd cred of Dungeons and Dragons. The four kids are very intelligent and boast a variety of personality types that work surprisingly well when interacting with the ex-cons. Rosenberg’s story is paced methodically in a slow-burn way that doesn’t rush anything. Boss’ illustrations are delightfully nostalgic in a way that grounds the book in relatively simplistic sensibilities. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1 offers an awesome combination of story and art that’s out-there in a pretty imaginative way.

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1 is in stores now.

Legend #1


2

“Gather round, sad ones. For today we mourn.”

Dogs are wonderful creatures. They’re incredibly capable problem-solvers, they have a way of commiserating with their owners, and they’re generally pretty fun. It’s easy to conceive of them running the world in the absence of humanity and Z2 Comics delves into that in Legend #1. The issue is written by Sam Sattin and illustrated by Chris Koehler.

What if a biological terror agent wiped out most of humanity and our domesticated animals were left in charge? How would our dogs and cats set about ruling and rebuilding the world? Ransom, the leader of the Dog Tribe, has been murdered by a creature known as the Endark. An English Pointer named Legend reluctantly rises to lead in his place, vowing to kill the monster once and for all.

Dogs are a lot more intelligent than people probably give them credit for and Sattin draws upon that intelligence to make Legend work. The issue builds up in a way that features the dogs discussing a potential new terror on the streets and how they plan to deal with it. Sattin gives every character a personality that matches their dog breed and it’s pretty touching to see them rally around the death of their leader. Any dog owner will tell you that dogs have distinct personalities and Sattin relies on the differences in personality as a means to individualize each dog involved. The actual terror they’re up against is just that – terrible – and is left somewhat vague in the interest of keeping the reader guessing.

Similar to the notion that each dog has a different personality, Koehler illustrates all the dogs with distinct looks that are pretty recognizable as far as breeds go. Facial expressions are rendered for each dog that do an excellent job of conveying a wide range of emotions that are pertinent to both the situation and the personalities. Aside from the looks of the dogs themselves, Koehler uses relatively monochromatic coloring to offer up the view of the world through the eyes of the dogs. It’s a very profound way to really get the reader to see things from a dog’s perspective and it adds a lot to the overall enjoyment of the issue. Koehler also mixes in some funky panel arrangements that keeps up with the fast speed of the dogs.

Legend #1 is a pretty fascinating approach in terms of personifying dogs. Legend is a believable protagonist and seemingly has a lot to contend with, but he has the trust of the other dogs. Sattin’s script is pretty simple and the dialogue is effective at getting the reader up to speed on everything happening. Koehler’s illustrations are subtle yet effective at getting the reader into the mindset of the dogs as they grapple with an impending evil of sorts. Legend #1 is a pretty fast-paced first issue that sets the tone immediately and doesn’t shy away.

Legend #1 is in stores in May.

Joyride #1


3

“One world. One government. One destiny.”

There’s an inevitability to space being explored and settled at some point in the future. After all, it’s such a vast expanse that the bigger question is where to go first. Way down the line after settling a few planets, it’s likely that human dynamics will change for both the better and the worse. Joyride #1 from BOOM! Studios looks at a change for the worst, but some manage to find a silver lining. The issue is written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, illustrated by Marcus To, colored by Irma Kniivila, and lettered by Jim Campbell.

In the future, Earth sucks. The stars have been blocked out for so long that people have forgotten there was anything else besides the dumb World Government Alliance watching over them, training children to join the militarized Allied Youth and eliminating all resistance with a giant ray gun. Uma Akkolyte is a girl who shoots first and leaps before she looks, and when she gets a strange message from outside the barricades of SafeSky, she jacks a spaceship and punches through the stratosphere with an unlikely crew of teens who are totally not ready for what they’re about to find.

Joyride #1 benefits greatly from the relaxed approach taken by Lanzing and Kelly. The dialogue seems to want to aim for an all-ages appeal, but one that’s got a little more sass to it. There are constant references to the way things were that Lanzing and Kelly draw upon to really bring the reader further into the relatively stifled reality the characters are forced to contend with on a daily basis. And those characters are written with plenty of attitude that’s not overbearing at all; instead, it lends more entertainment value to the plot. Lanzing and Kelly pace the issue very well, giving the reader enough to digest without being overwhelmed.

To’s illustrations evoke thoughts of 80s animes. There are a lot less in the way of mechs for sure, but the characters are defined by sharp, clean lines and effective shading that reinforces the notion that the book essentially takes place in space. The panels don’t really follow a set format either in a way that gives the book a wide open feel befitting of one that’s set in space. To illustrates the sense of kinetics in space very well, primarily through characters interacting with one another with a sense of weightlessness about them. Kniivila’s colors do a great job of helping to give the reader the full context of the setting – from bright, vivid oranges for planetary life to darker blues for scenes in space.

Joyride #1 offers a tale that capitalizes on the series’ namesake well. Uma is pretty adventurous as a lead character and her rash decision-making will likely lead to headaches for the other characters and interesting situations for the reader. Lanzing and Kelly infuse the book with something of a CW mentality at points, with youthful characters who are content to be who they are and throw caution to the wind. To’s illustrations do a great job of capturing the essence of the story itself, providing characters who ebb and flow in regards to one another in a way that feels appropriately gravitational. Joyride #1 is very enjoyable and a fun new story for readers to check out.

Joyride #1 is in stores now.


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