What seems like a typical second semester at NYU turns out to be something else entirely!
Credits & Solicit Info:
New York Five #1
Story: Brian Wood
Art: Ryan Kelly
Cover: Ryan Kelly and Brian Wood
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Gregory Lockhard
Editor: Shelly Bond
New York Five #1
Everyone's favorite New York University Freshman Students Return for another Semester of Trials, Tribulations and Discoveries, but is this just another book full of wanna-be hipsters, or is there something deeper to these characters?
Even with all my experience with Comics, there are times where I'm still surprised and taken aback at how versatile this medium truly is. Of course, such thoughts are most likely secondary when one is taking in comics for their raw entertainment value. However, when one sits back and analyzes the medium from a functionary standpoint, it is then when they realize how much diverse storytelling potential this medium holds. With the unique way that Graphic Novels combine words and drawn art, one could find themselves immersed in a Super-Hero Adventure one minute, and a traditional Fantasy Quest the next, and after those stories are done, he or she can choose to either go to a world built on horror, or a Steampunk Interpretation of the Late Victorian Era without suffering any disconnect, due to the art helping the reader transition smoothly into those worlds.
Of course, those 4 scenarios are just a mere inkling of the tip of the iceberg of what's available for readers, if they have the desire to find what suits them, however this reviewer wonders what the first reaction of the general LCS fan base would be of a comic that didn't provide the typical action that most fans are accustomed to? Just a story of characters trying to make their way through something that seems quite mundane compared to the usual story in Comic Books? Personally, I looked forward to "The New York Five #1", but if I told you that I was going to be so impressed that I would end up buying the Digest-Sized Prequel Collection, you would have every right to call me a liar. How did this book move me to such action? The answer is just below you.
Just so everyone is up to speed, "The New York Five" is the sequel to Brian Wood's and Ryan Kelly's "The New York Four", which was released on the not-so-recently defunct Minx line that was aimed to provide an outreach to young adults (particularly Teenage Girls) who were interested in an Alternate Style of Comic Book. Despite Minx's unfortunate shutdown, "The New York Four" had enough of a following for Vertigo to release the already planned sequel under their imprint. As for the story itself, The New York Five begins on the heels of Winter Break, as we are introduced to one of the four college freshman that the prequel followed as the creators take a page to get us introduced to said character. From there, we follow the continuing adventures of the other 3 characters whose trials and tribulations all differ from each other, as they share a common goal of surviving their first year at NYU. First and foremost, Brian Wood is to be commended with the overall diversity of its cast, not just being content with their races or ethnicities being different from each other. Each of these characters has a distinctly unique motivation as for what they want from their second semester to NYU, and it's because of that unique motivation that Brian Wood is able to give us such strong distinctive characterization that lends to giving these characters their unique voices, which only helps the audience become invested even faster, as it becomes a priority to learn who each character is, because for the reader to truly appreciate the story, they have to learn what distinctive challenges each character is facing. What also struck me as brave move is how New York University (Not New York City itself) is secondary to what's happening in both this story, and the one that preceded it. Such a stance allows for each character to have their own unique outlook at school, and to not let said school be the anchor that the story is tied to. This allows for the characters to have lives outside of the classroom, which turns out to be infinitely more interesting as the reader will find out for themselves. It also allows this story to transcend being just another School-Based Drama into becoming a story of these characters crossing through a very formative phase of their lives, and if the 5th character is any indication, the new perspective is only going to make the succeeding issues stronger. There's very little else anyone can ask from Brian Wood with this writing job.
From an artistic standpoint, the first thing anyone is going to notice that this comic is in black and white, something that raised a few question marks from this reviewer, questions that were easily silenced as the art was so good that it didn't really matter that it was in color. Without color to potentially hid what was going on (not saying that color is bad, mind you), Ryan Kelly's drawing of the characters in this story is allowed to be presented on such a level, that each character's raw, unfiltered emotions are on display for the readers' to take in on their own. There isn't a single beat missed, as each panel helps to express the mood that focus characters are in. Along with that positive, the art of the background characters, and the city itself helps the pages come alive in such a manner that the city itself becomes its own character. It's this combination of things that helps to make this world come alive in a much better way than it would in standard word only print. Like the writing, there is little left to be desired from such amazing artwork.
Even though "The New York Five" is a sequel, the creators don't just put you into throw you into the water without swimming the lessons. The book also comes with an extensive recap that helps us to understand where these characters have been a lot better, and helps everyone get dropped into action with amazing ease, and providing a great example of how a great recap page is worth the price of admission. When all is said and done, not only does The New York Five provide us an answer as to how something that happens every day can become a spellbinding piece of comic book, but it provides an amazing value at 31 Pages of story with no ads, all for a $2.99 price. For such an amazing deal, this would definitely be worth it to people who didn't feel like they bought enough comics last week, or want to try something new. Who knows, you might be like this reviewer and fall in love with this series, and the characters it presents.
Story ****3/4: Great Dialogue, Compelling Characterwork, and a Heartstopping storyline all equal to a story that can inspire others to reach its standard.
Art: ****1/2: Everything in this book is excellent to look at, as you're not going to be able to forget any of what you witness in this book, and that's a good thing.
Accessibility ****3/4: The Recap provides you with everything you need to know to jump in, and whatever else you want to know, you'll be compelled to pick up the prequel to find out.
Final Judgment: ****3/4 (Exemplary)
Review by: Linwood Earl Knight