Black Mask Studios 2016
Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Illustrated by Tyler Boss
Flatting by Clare Dezutti
Lettered by Thomas Mauer
Before I go into things I have to say that I was surprised by the announcement that this had already sold out and was going to a second print. I hadn’t read it yet and it was announced Wednesday the day of release. This is a crime caper in five parts so I do suggest you see if it is available where you shop and make sure you grab one because the hype is real and well deserved.
I adored the opening here. No spoilers but it’s a Dungeons & Dragons game being played out and we see how it is imagined by those playing and oh my goodness the dialogue, the narration and the character synapsis are all stellar! It also introduces us the main characters here and taking a cue from the book’s title it is indeed 4 Kids. The characterization here is incredibly delightful I mean if you’ve ever felt like the outcast, the unpopular kid, the freak or the loser you’ll identity with this group. Heck even if you know people like that you’ll identify it’s just that well written by Matthew.
Also the interior artwork here is perfectly done and so well suited to the story. Kudos to Tyler for his work here, his eye for composition and how the story needs to flow from page to page, panel to panel. Going from the D&D world to real life was kind a wow really kind of moment but does a number on the mind as it showcases the fantasy world versus their reality and it’s powerful. Almost as much as the use of the backgrounds and certain well placed items in them that are coloured, or flatted, superbly.
Aside from the story itself which is just one of a kind in nature I love the direction and the synergy between the story and the art. There are quite a few times when the wording wouldn’t work as well without the collaboration of seeing the character. It’s moments like that which you really have to read the story, pay attention to in order to fully capture and appreciate.
I have to fully admit there really is something simply brilliant about how this has been put together and executed. Things are never what they first appear to be and stereotypes well those are there but shouldn’t be used as a guideline and the old adage “never judge a book…” all apply in ways that the reader can eat up. This is more straight up, no tricks, no gimmicks storytelling that simply is one of the most surprisingly good reads to be happened upon.
I’m not sure where this is going or how it’s going to evolve but with everything we see this issue it’s clear that these four kids are in for the adventure of a lifetime and hopefully plan on using their Dungeons & Dragons characters as a source of inspiration and courage.