Thanks to a review from another site, I decided to pick up this comic book. What sold me was its description as an example of the kids-centered adventure-comedy, or the “Goonies genre.” Normal kids having to deal with the complexities and bigness of life, while being thrust into the strangeness of some otherworldly, unseen reality.
You could also describe it as a wonderful example of the Magical Realism genre— one of my favorites, and something at which comic books excel at. There’s the mundane reality of the everyday life of these girls, made even more harshly real by the ugliness of ageism, bullies, the hazards and allure of smoking, monetary loss and sacrifice, and the glass ceiling of newspaper delivery. Just as ugly as having to wake up at 4am for a job more known for its physicality and drudgery. None of these things are inherently more full of angst than the other, but together they all make up the countless little obstacles we have to overcome daily.
Enter into that some kind of Strangeness. Not only must the girls have to figure out the ins and outs of life, but there’s some foreboding monsters who’ve invaded suburbia for some reason, and they have to figure out what’s going. They are already on their way to do it, thanks to their natural predilection to band together and keep each others’ backs.
Unfortunately, the choice to open with a dream sequence doesn’t work, and that’s quite disorientating. There may be some payoff, even if it’s just lending metaphors or tone, but it’s not immediate, and doesn’t seem to be purposeful at all. Elsewhere, there are one or two sequences of dialogue that don’t feel natural, either, as the girls make a leap of logic here or there that seems more non-sequitur. For example, they go from wondering about a piece of fabric to commenting how it feels like skin. That doesn’t quite ring as something our very-grounded girls would jump to, although it’s something the author chooses to help establish our atmosphere.
Other than that, the characters feel quite real, and that’s helped by some very crisp linework and colors. Their emotions are allowed to be presented visually and expressively, often with a panel or two of silent build-up or reflection. A consistent nighttime palette is used without obscuring or darkening our scene, which makes the occasional shift to another color such as yellow signal surprise and highlight our attention. Unfortunately, as a side effect, some of the colors become too desaturated to remain distinctive, and although the character designs are nicely differentiated, you do have to look close to make out each one, especially as the action cuts back and forth quickly.
The $2.99 price tag also makes for a great sell for a 40 page comic. The youthful and female-centered cast may appeal to young readers, too, but it should be noted that the strong language and acknowledgement of the rougher edges of life make it a strong PG-13 rating.