Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artwork: Tyler Boss
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 16th March 2022
To bring you up to speed, this dystopian coming-of-age series from Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss is set in a decimated near future where grown ups are gone and gangs of children and teenagers band together, doing their best to survive until the time comes for them to be exiled when they themselves become “adults”. One such gang, the record shop-dwelling ‘Academy’, have already broken all sorts of rules by heading out into the ruined wilderness to find their missing friend Sid, and it’s safe to say that they are well and truly wearing out their welcome in their latest port of call, the slightly unnerving ‘Carnival’.
As anyone familiar with either creator’s previous work will have come to expect, subtle character beats and deadpan humour rule the day here. Both Rosenberg and Boss have done a fantastic job thus far of fleshing out this motley crew of characters, gradually drawing us into the uneasy mystery of Sid’s disappearance and the reasons behind the current state of the world. As I mentioned above, the Academy are doing absolutely nothing to endear themselves to the inhabitants of the Carnival, a situation that escalates in rapid fashion here with tragic consequences, and the work done over the first four issues to establish the characters really helps these moments to land with authority.
As I mentioned in my review of issue one, and without wanting to besmirch the rest of the creative team who all do a stellar job here, Boss is undoubtedly the main selling point for me here. His stylised approach and subtly expressive characters work brilliantly in a grounded story like this, and the visual delivery of several dramatic and comedic moments – including a glorious fall from a first floor window – are pretty much perfect.
Honestly, my only real niggle with this series, aside from the fact that I have to wait a month to read every new issue, is the use of chapter cards to break up the story. Don’t get me wrong, I kind of like the concept, but when you’re dealing with “chapters” that are frequently only one or two pages long, it becomes more than a little distracting and disruptive to have the flow of the story constantly broken up by full-page white-on-black text boxes.
Pushing that to one side, there’s no denying that this is an absolutely fantastic series that showcases the strengths of its entire creative team beautifully. Rosenberg gives us fully rounded, believable and relatable characters; Boss gives us stylish, evocative layouts and note-perfect moments of visual comedy; and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou keeps the story flowing throughout with his trademark immaculate lettering. A gripping story that’s in no hurry to give its bigger secrets away, this is a wonderful series that I can’t recommend highly enough.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]