Black Mask Studios
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Tyler Boss
Flatting: Clare Dezutti
Sir Manley, Walter, and Crotch are in the midst of a battle with a terrifying dragon, but this isn't their story. This is the story about the kids behind the dungeons and dragons characters, namely Pat, Berger, Walter and Paige, a few awkward school kids finding fun wherever they can. When Paige's father offers to buy the kids ice cream, the kids run into a very strange set of men at the door. Maybe it's the swastika tattoo or the way one of them punches Paige in the face, but these guys are clearly bad news. As the story goes on, we soon find ourselves wondering what their intentions are with Paige's family, and how the kids are involved.
Matthew Rosenberg has proven his talent with We Can Never Go Home and 12 Reasons Die, but in all honesty his writing style in this is absolutely breathtaking. The voices that he gives to the kids feels so real and authentic, incorporating all of the nuances and goals we all experienced in school. There's a certain charm to each member of the gang that is in the exact same vein as The Goonies or Monster Squad, while still providing voices that are totally unique to this story. After the kids we get introduced to Paige's father, who reads as the dad trying to do his best to keep her daughter happy and protected. I feel like his character arc throughout this 5 issue mini is going to be the most changing. Just from his dialogue in this first story, there's a clear and powerful bond between him and Paige. The band of troublemakers, Hayes Silk, Vernon and Skinhead Mike also have incredible personalities, and are the main source of humor put up against the young charm of the kids. Not only that, but when they are introduced there is an immediate uncertainty, knowing that as long as the kids are near them they are in danger. This issue sets up what is going to be an incredible story, and the context provided gives an incredible amount of character interaction and dynamics. Oh, and I feel like I haven't really discussed it, but this book is absolutely hilarious.
Tyler Boss has done work on VICE Magazine, Funeral Pudding, Swimmers, & Lazarus (#11-17 specifically) which is what people may know him best for, but after this series and for sure after this series, people will know him very well. Boss has a noticeable knack for panel design, and puts his exceptionally well designed characters in each. The design is especially enjoyable on pages that use all of the panels to make one image or to map out the speech pattern of the characters. Speaking of characters, they look so natural in this story and are perfect for the era the story is in (70's I believe). From the aviator glasses, to Silk's choice in hats, to Paige's outfit, the era and everything occupying it are perfect. It's also great the way the movements illustrated match Rosenberg's age appropriate dialogue making the kids even more understandable and realistic. Boss is clearly a master of the layout, and each panel has a neatness to the art that makes for an even more enjoyable viewing experience. Adding to this remarkable experience is Courtney Menard, who designs the retro (yet undeniably hip) wallpaper in Paige's home. Putting the icing on the cake of this issue are the colors. Working with Boss, Clare Dezutti delivers a color scheme that uses subtlety to give an almost sepia toned filter over the whole package.
Suffice it to say, I love this issue. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank is an obvious hit in Black Mask's successful library. Rosenberg and Boss work so well together to form a story with a voice and atmosphere that strikes just the right chord. As I mentioned earlier, this is the first of a five issue series, and this issue comes out TODAY, April 26th. I would jump on it as soon as possible, this one's going to get tough to find, and you won't be disappointed.