It’s been quite a while since Heavy Vinyl was first launched back in the summer of 2017, and with some time between installments it’s understandable that a few details from the series had slipped my mind. But getting back to the series instantly reminded me what I liked about it: a diverse, crime-fighting girl gang of music fanatics makes for an interesting cast of characters with a plot that can change direction at a moment’s notice.
Heavy Vinyl has been an unpredictable read from the outset, but with a noticeable delay since the previous installment, it was especially hard to guess how the series would continue. Nine months after the previous arc, the staff of Vinyl Destination are working to bring down mega producer Rick Blaze’s conspiracy to brainwash musicians and strip their music of its message. That’s a lot to take in, I know, and our protagonists have also formed a band in the hopes of bringing the whole thing down from the inside. But is there more to Blaze’s plan than they initially thought?
There’s an interesting amount of nostalgia within Heavy Vinyl and it’s aimed at a time period that all too often people seem to look back on in a negative light. A time of Mindless Self Indulgence, Limp Bizkit, American Pie and Y2K, the good ol’ year 1999. Frankly I’m a huge fan, but much like The Phantom Menace, there’s a chance that I’m young enough to look back on these things more fondly than others. This time around it feels like the time period plays more of a central role in the narrative, with suspicion around downloading digital music and concerns about the millennium bug proving to be integral.
While there was a lot to establish in the first volume, I feel like Y2K-O! presents the opportunity for Carly Usdin to spend more time working on the cast of characters as individuals and allowing everyone to have their own story, whether it be Kennedy and Logan dealing with changes in their relationship or Chris and Maggie moving forward with theirs. At least this is the case for the first few issues, but by the end of the volume it begins to feel like the series’ main narrative has gotten in the way of this, when it would’ve been nice to see more of each individual’s story.
Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores’ artwork is perfect for bringing Heavy Vinyl to life, consistently delivering interesting character designs and the best of ’90s fashion to the page, with some great moments of emotion and comedy throughout. As a colorist, Natalia Nesterenko adds a lot to the art, by both using subtle gradients in backgrounds to add to the mood and bringing bursts of liveliness throughout the series.
Y2K-O! is a solid continuation of Heavy Vinyl, bringing back everything that was enjoyable from the first volume with an extra helping of late ’90s nostalgia. With no shortage of positive representation and a great cast of characters, I’ll always have time for more from this series.
Oh, and if you’ve enjoyed the series and love ’90s music, definitely check out Carly Usdin’s playlist over on Spotify!
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