Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artwork: Tyler Jenkins
Colours: Hilary Jenkins
Lettering: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 8th August 2018
Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ eagerly anticipated follow-up to the Eisner-nominated GRASS KINGS is finally here. In BLACK BADGES, the duo are fixing to shine a light on the top-secret covert ops wing of the Boy Scouts, and this first issue gives us a little taster about four such scouts as they venture into North Korea on a “field trip.”
There’s no doubt that Kindt and Jenkins have come up with a fantastic elevator pitch, but this first issue makes it obvious that this new series is going to be far more than just a snappy idea. The aforementioned Boy Scouts are loaded with character and individuality, with “husky” newbie Willy steering the narrative as we get to experience the dangerous mission through his shocked, incredulous eyes.
Kindt’s dialogue is sharp and measured throughout, never swamping things in exposition and keeping things moving smoothly for the most part. Only a brief diversion as Willy regales his fellow scouts with his “origin story” slows down the forward momentum, but even that helps to deliver a ton of much-needed context to the Black Badge program as a whole. There’s also a neat little nod to one of Kindt’s other books which is guaranteed to raise a smile.
Tyler Jenkins has noticeably tweaked his style from GRASS KINGS, partnering with wife Hilary to deliver a markedly different aesthetic, albeit one rendered in their distinctive watercoloured style. Hilary uses gouache here to provide a vibrant, colourful aesthetic, with Tyler’s striking character designs and wonderful sense of scale and framing really helping this first issue to pop from a visual standpoint.
As anyone familiar with the pair’s previous collaboration will have expected by now, the partnership between Jenkins and Kindt feels pretty much seamless at this point, with some clever character work fitting in beautifully alongside lush landscapes and expressive faces. This first issue feels almost like a prologue of sorts, establishing the main characters and the basic premise rather than kicking off the story proper, but when you have as great a creative partnership as you do here, why rush?
It’s probably no secret that I was going to love this one, but seeing Kindt and Jenkins tackling a whole new subject matter in a whole new genre is truly delicious. There’s also an enjoyable blend of humour, drama and high-concept espionage here that makes this an extremely easy series to recommend. With this new series, Tyler Jenkins and Matt Kindt have earned their “making another fantastic comic” badge with style.
If you want to find out more about BLACK BADGE, check out our interview with Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins by CLICKING HERE.