Obvious comparisons will be made between pop culture icons like Stranger Things and Dark when talking about Buckhead #1. Still, despite feeling spawned from the same sub-genre, Buckhead takes enough strides in its direction to carve out a story unique from its peers. Granted, the opening chapter of Buckhead isn’t without its foibles. Still, writer Shobo Coker checks all the proverbial boxes for getting a new series right: laying the foundations of the story, introducing audiences to the characters, and providing just enough information to make readers want to delve into the story further.
What strange secrets lie in the mysterious town of Buckhead, USA? Toba and his mother, a renowned scientist, have just immigrated to the US. But instead of living in the Big City like Toba always dreamed, they’ve moved to a sleepy little town in the Pacific Northwest called BUCKHEAD. In the middle of the picturesque and pedestrian town, Toba discovers that things aren’t as perfect as they seem Toba and his newfound friends find a strange video game, a perfect replica of the town and its people. Soon Toba is on the run from men in black, with his friends brainwashed by microchips.
Described as an “AfroFuturist Series About African Myth,” Buckhead #1 features protagonist Toba Adekunle as a newcomer to a new land. A young man out of his element amid his formidable years; a story many immigrants have experienced firsthand. Yet, despite many readers being unable to relate to being an immigrant, the heart of the story can still resonate with anyone. Shobo captures Toba’s angst perfectly, introducing a 3-dimensional character early on within a short window of time. Toba lashes out of his mother for moving to Buckhead, has the first-day-of-school jitters, and faces the typical problems we all experienced during our teen years. But, what’s a hero without some allies?
Toba’s classmate Josue is as timid as they come, the reluctant sidekick to Toba and his new group of friends’ adventures. Their relationship is rocky but true to life. During his introduction at his first middle school class, Romy and Mel introduce themselves. It’s a reasonably diverse cast in a genre that is desperately lacking in various representations — a welcome introduction. The only gripe would be that Romy introduces himself as the “star wrestler,” which ultimately feels unnatural, and the group comes together a little too quickly, befriending one another within seconds of meeting. Thankfully, the compelling mystery behind the series takes front and center.
The first issue of Buckhead moves at a rapid pace. Fortunately, every scene/panel moves the narrative forward or informs the reader of important information. The opening scene of the series introduces the audience to the mystery at the heart of the story while providing tons of information. For example, Toba’s parents were involved in a dig site in Benin City, Nigeria, that went awry. Readers now have information that will come into play as the series progresses. Toba’s parents are part of it (somehow), the plot has ties to Adekunle family’s African roots, and a mysterious glowing object will certainly play a factor as things move forward. Suffice to say that fans interest should be piqued, but the stakes only increase throughout the issue. Writer Shoba Coker manages to build on narrative in a very sly way; new information is presented, but it is never too much to spoil things.
But the series is called “Buckhead” for a reason. Somehow, the strange findings deep within an African dig site have ties to an American northwest town. Rather than feel disjointed or off-putting, the disparity in settings only furthers readers’ interest. How are these locations connected? Why did Toba’s mother decide to come here? And who is involved? The town of Buckhead is full of secrets, and it seems many of its residents are interested in one way or another. As Toba makes his way through his first day of school, more mysterious events occur, from his morning walk to school to a secret rendezvous with his friends that doesn’t go as planned.
As far as opening chapters go, Buckhead #1 is a solid undertaking that captures readers’ attention and takes a novel approach to a genre that rehashes the same stories. Shobo Coker has invested a lot into the narrative, and it shows. If the opening issue of Buckhead #1 is any indication, fans are in for a very promising series.
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