Review – Misfit City #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios (BOOM! Box imprint)
Writers: Kiwi Smith and Kurt Lustgarten
Artwork: Naomi Franquiz, Brittany Peer (colours)
Release Date: 10th May 2017

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:  A rag-tag group of friends, trapped in a fairly unremarkable town, discover what seems to be a map to a hidden pirate treasure horde and embark on an adventure to try and save their community.  So far so Goonies, right?  And aside from the all-female cast, you could definitely be forgiven for making that comparison.  In fact, it’s actually kinda the point of this brand new series BOOM! Studios from Kiwi Smith, Kurt Lustgarten and Naomi Franquiz.

What stops Misfit City from becoming a straight-up all-girl Goonies remake (which wouldn’t actually be that bad a thing, I’m sure we can all agree) is the intriguing meta spin the creators have put on the story.  Rather than just a bunch of kids going on an adventure, this particular bunch of misfits have grown up in the shadow of popular teen movie “The Gloomies”, which was filmed in their home town of Cannon Cove.  Constantly forced to deal with slack-jawed and frequently disrespectful tourists, they’ve had to put up with the ‘Gloomies’ stigma their entire lives.  However, when a deceased local leaves a mysterious chest to the Cannon Cove Film Museum, they discover that the real world may end up being far more exciting than the big screen version.

Okay, so there are a lot of familiar ideas here – the misfit group of kids embarking on an adventure, the shady grown-ups trying to stop them – but it’s all filtered through an all-girl lens, instantly giving it a feeling of freshness and an energy that keeps the pages turning throughout the course of this first issue.  The characters themselves are fantastic, too.  Diverse, but all feeling wonderfully three-dimensional rather than being merely defined by their ethnicity, body type or outlook.  Sure, they’re broken down into some pretty familiar tropes – the sarcastic punk rocker, the passionate ‘leader’, the bookworm – but the execution is impressive in that they all feel real, rather than merely like a bunch of generic stereotypes.

Smith’s dialogue is humorous and authentic, as you’d likely expect from the screenwriter of Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You.  She and Lustgarten perfectly capture the kind of good-natured banter and back-and-forth bickering that we’ll likely recognise from our own circle of friends, making the ‘misfits’ feel like a group we’d definitely like to be a part of.   Oh, and there’s a card-playing dog with no sense of smell called Pippin, which should pretty much seal the deal, to be honest.

Franquiz’s artwork is suitably lively and cartoony throughout, working with the soft colours of Brittany Peer to create a fun looking book that never becomes too garish or outlandish.  The character designs are brilliant, with each ‘misfit’ having their own distinctive style and body type, as well some great expressions and mannerisms that are already evident after just one issue.  While this is ostensibly a set-up issue, Franquiz also deserves credit for making the storyline beats work as well as they do, from faux sword fights to shady midnight break-ins.

Honestly, I’m loving this series already.  Rose-tinted nostalgia and present-day relevance, weary cynicism and a wide-eyed sense of adventure, Misfit City has it all.  This is a positive, upbeat series with an almost tangible sense of adventure,  and whether you’re a girl, a boy, a Goonies fan or just someone who loves a great story, Misfit City comes highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.

If you want to find out more about Misfit City, make sure to check out our interview with the creative team by CLICKING HERE.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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