New, good, superhero comics are rare. Maybe it’s just a product of how much we value the continuity and storytelling of the long-running DC and Marvel universes; maybe because it’s simply just that people invested in telling superhero comics who are any good at it end up at Marvel and DC, but in the last twenty odd years, there just haven’t been that many. Sure, there are some exceptions – your Valiants, your Commanders in Crisis, your Black Hammers – but those are the exceptions that prove the rule. You can scroll through the ‘new’ category on Comixology, or through the comics sections on Kickstarter, and there is a lot of garbage. There just isn’t a better term for it!
So, finding Young Offenders was a surprise, though, to be clear, a very pleasant one. A Kickstarter comic with art by Mike Becker, written by Mark Stack, and lettered by Jodie Troutman, Young Offenders wears its influences on its sleeves. And, for that matter, isn’t particularly innovative, either. After Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have vanished fighting off invaders from beyond, the few remaining superhumans, all young adults and teenagers, must band together to fight off both the mysterious invaders, and the authoritarian powers that be that have taken advantage of the chaos to take over.
Again, this is not a new story. There’s about thirty percent of Thunderbolts, maybe fifty percent X-Men, and a bit of Young Justice, Teen Titans, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer making up the leftovers. And it’s not particularly a secret, either. These are clear influences, and clear inspirations.
But that’s not particularly a bad thing, either. Young Offenders sort of reminds me of matzo ball soup. A good matzo ball soup isn’t innovative. You don’t do anything new with a good matzo ball soup. It’s about taking a few, existent ingredients, and making them very, very good. And that’s very much the story with Young Offenders. It’s not a new story, but it tells the old story very, very well.
That’s partially because of Mike Becker’s art. Becker’s art isn’t quite up to snuff for a professional comic book – though I do wonder partially if that’s due to the coloring. Becker’s art is loose, and even with the linework, has an almost sketch-like sense of unfinishedness. The lines are sort of bulbous – organic, really. But that’s a good fit for the story that Stack and Becker are telling. It’s fitting for a story that itself feels unfinished, in the sense that we’re just seeing a little corner of a larger world.
Actually reading Young Offenders can be difficult, as it’s a Kickstarter comic, but as you read this, the campaign for the second and third issues, with a reprint option for the first, is going on. Check it out!
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