Review – 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #5 (Black Mask Studios)

Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Story: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Tyler Boss
Release Date: 6th September 2017

We finally made it, folks.  It’s been sixteen(!) long months since the first issue of Black Mask Studios’ 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank blew us all away here at the Big Comic Page, and now, following all manner of delays, hiccups and printing snafus, the conclusion is upon us.  Yes, it’s finally time for Berger, Walter, Stretch and Paige to put their plan in motion and rob that damn bank.

Writer Matthew Rosenberg once again delivers gem after gem of fantastic, quote-worthy dialogue, including two police officers who almost manage to steal the whole damn issue by themselves. It’s another hilarious issue for sure, but there’s also an undercurrent of earnest seriousness bubbling under the surface, as has become the trend for the series so far.  The opening and closing pages are tinged with tragedy, and while there are plenty of smiles to be had along the way, the ultimate message about clinging on to your youth in a world that increasingly forces its coarse, violent reality onto you remains a uniquely powerful one.

Tyler Boss does a stellar job with the visual side of the issue, channeling the likes of David Aja and Steve Lieber with his stripped-down style and note-perfect comedy beats.  The montage sequence where the kids prepare for the job is executed to absolute perfection, and his panel-heavy approach really helps to emphasise the rapid-fire pace of this conclusion. The structure is both technically proficient and pleasingly inventive, and the way Boss conveys movement between stationary panels is truly masterful.

My only minor criticism about the issue is about the ending, which feels unnecessarily abrupt – to me, at least.  I understand that it’s intended to be ambiguous to a point, but it came across as a little too jarring for my tastes, almost like Rosenberg and Boss simply ran out of pages and had to wrap things up quickly (although that clearly isn’t the case).  It feels selfish to ask for more, and it certainly doesn’t diminish the overall impact of the issue in any significant way, but I did find myself itching to find out a little more about the fallout from the robbery, rather than settling for the rapid-fire (if undeniably poignant) resolution the creators provided here.

That minor niggle aside, this is still a pretty damn perfect ending to yet another stunningly impressive series from Black Mask Studios.  Obviously the release problems have hampered the flow of the series significantly, but if you get a chance to pick up the collected edition, you really owe it to yourself to do just that.  You can thank me later.  It’s razor-sharp, hilariously relatable and surprisingly heartfelt, and if it weren’t for a certain ‘homeless noir’ series, would stand alone as the unquestioned jewel in the Black Mask Studios crown.  Highest of recommendations for this one, folks.

Rating: 5/5.

If you want to find out more about 4 Kids Walk into A Bank, make sure to check out our interview with series writer Matthew Rosenberg by CLICKING HERE.

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