Mariko Tamaki and Amancay Nahualpan deliver readers a compelling and fun look at one of DC’s newest LGBTQ stars to kick off Pride Month! Picking up from where readers left Crush in Teen Titans Academy #3, Tamaki delves into intimate relationships and day to day activities in a way readers haven’t seen before. Plus, the tease of Lobo’s chaotic presence promises zany adventures to come.
Tamaki makes a strong stylistic decision from the offset in having Crush’s narration be snarky and somewhat self-aware, in the same style her father or Deadpool might be written. It’s a style which Tamaki takes a moment to settle into, but ultimately it’s an additive element which pays off in Crush’s strong sense of personality.
There’s an edginess that permeates each and every segment Crush narrates, and it gives such a strong frame of reference for the reality that Crush is a teenager. She’s angst-ridden, snarky, unaccepting of help and convinced everyone hates her, and that’s perfect for this story.
It is odd, though, seeing that portrayal meshed with a world that sees Crush living in an apartment by herself like a full grown adult. Comics have had this problem of treating teenage heroes like young adults for way too long, but that doesn’t excuse how odd it is to see.
Luckily, past this, Tamaki isn’t making many mistakes with this script. She surrounds Crush with a really exciting and endearing supporting cast. Katie, her girlfriend, is all kinds of adorable, and filled with personality. She’s an excellent contrast to the series protagonist, and is so well defined that readers are going to want to see her recur over and over.
She’s also a really normal, good person who seems to come from normal, good people. That’s a compelling angle considering readers are probably most familiar with teenage characters portrayed in unhealthy relationships, or teenage LGBTQ characters interacting with disapporiving families. Here Crush’s situation breaks the mold, and delivers a more nuanced story that stems from Crush’s internal issues rather than her external troubles.
That isn’t to say there isn’t one big, hairy, vulgar external trouble looming. Readers are only treated to a couple pages of the Main Man here, but they’re some of the most effective pages in the book. The simple introduction of Lobo’s somewhat hilarious predicament is timely, tension-building and hard not to love. It’s an incredibly fun plot line, which readers will most likely find themselves ready to see more of in the next issue.
It’s also with Lobo’s appearance that Nahualpan clearly does his best work. Lobo is zany, and larger than life unlike anyone else in the book. He’s expressive and captivating in a jaw-dropping way. Even the short tease is a promise of radical excitement to come.
Throughout the rest of the book, Nahualpan is rather good, mostly nailing the dramatized tone of a teenage dealing with their first relationship issues. It’s fun and colorful in all the right places, whether during a dynamic action scene or a party.
He’s also part of the reason that Katie is so adorable. On top of her grand personality, Nahualpan manages to make her the literal personification of sunshine and rainbows. She glows across the page, in such a excellent contrast to Crush’s ’90s goth inspired look.
This issue really does show a strong chemistry between Tamaki and Nahualpan which only benefits the book, and helps them deliver a better product to readers. Crush & Lobo #1 is a fun introduction to DC’s next big father/daughter adventure. It isn’t perfect, but that’s not what it promises. Its promise from the get-go is fun, wild adventure, and readers will find that in droves.
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