Black Mask Studios 2016
Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Illustrated & Designed by Tyler Boss
Flatting by Clare Dezutti
Lettered by Thomas Mauer
11 year old Paige and her weirdo friends have a problem: a gang of ex-cons need her dad's help on a heist... the problem is those ex-cons are morons. If Paige wants to keep her dad out of trouble, she's going to have to pull off the heist herself.
There’s so much to like about this book. It’s completely offbeat and weird as it depicts these outsiders who’ve banded together as friends. The characterization comes in some great ways as we see them playing video games and the dialogue in the opening is them talking as the character they are playing. Both speak volumes about their personalities. As if the kids weren’t weird enough this just takes it to a whole new level but in all honesty it’s also something that completely makes sense. They live in something of a fantasy world, in real life faithful to each other and as devoted as they are in their games.
In a sense it’s as heartwarming as it is disturbing that kids can become obsessed with these games and sometimes forget that what they do there isn’t stuff they can or should do in the real world. Or at least consider it training for what’s about to come. On some level it reminds me of an old movie where Tom Hanks couldn’t separate reality from fantasy of his D&D character.
Still I also love that the kids are resourceful. Berger surprised me, not because of the pizza thing but definitely with the license plate. Then Paige’s outburst and subsequent trip to her Uncle well that was a bit of interesting writing. Uncle Bruce is a great stroke of luck, okay writing, as he is a cop and it helps since Paige has that license plate number. Now this is something I can see a kid doing, using their computer skills on an unsuspecting family member to find out something they want to.
I love the interiors for this too. From seeing the game play to the way Tyler uses pages and panels for the flow of the story. That whole segment where she’s on the computer was laid out incredibly well and innovatively. Also I like the way he fills up his panels, not always with a lot of background per se but there’s enough and the amount of small detail he puts into them, plus the angles, perspective and focus he’s got is really great. It all works to really get you into this story. This is a great collaboration between words and visuals.
Sometimes you find a story where the kids can come across all too real and Matthew has done that here. He’s writing such an incredible story of family, friendship and all that that means. Sometimes your family isn’t tied to you by blood but by the bonds of friendship and even at 11/12 years old these kids are family for each other.
Also as the story continues to unfold and you begin to see what is happening here things get a lot more interesting. The end not only demonstrates different intelligence levels and perception of the kids but they almost parallel the bad guys.
You go into this with one mindset and suddenly Matthew’s got you all over the place and ending up where you never expected to be. This really is one of the more interesting, compelling and honest stories to come out, yes an honest portrayal of kids these days, You’ll kick yourself if you miss this one.