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The Knight's Shelf: The New York Five #4

Written by Linwood Earl Knight on Tuesday, May 03 2011 and posted in Reviews

Freshman Year comes to a close for four very special young women. What happens that rocks them all to the core and will this book be able to pull off the conclusion that such a great story deserves? The answers are just a click away.

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Ryan Kelly
Inker: Jim Rugg (Pages 13 - 21)
Associate Editor:
Gregory Lockard
Editor: Shelly Bond

(Cover by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly


The semester is in full swing and our four (five?) girls could not be more on their own. But when tragedy strikes, they realize what a small world the big city can be and discover the strength sticking together gives them.


What matters most of all when the journey ends? The lessons learned, the victories won, the defeats suffered, or the friends you've made along the way? The only real answer is all of the above, because when you get right down to it, everything truly matters.

When it comes to storytelling, one of the most difficult (deceptively so) aspects of the process is the manufacturing of a satisfying conclusion. While it may seem unfair, there is no denying that an unsatisfying ending can lessen (if not outright ruin) the perception of a story that would've been considered well-executed up to that point. While this is a concern for any medium of storytelling, it has become an ever exponentially growing concern for large part of graphic storytelling, due to the fact that medium is following two vastly different formats as it embraces the ever-growing graphic novel style while still creating most of its stories to be told in multiple parts in the traditional serial format. With such a size discrepancy, the chance for unsatisfying endings increases due to decompression, dangling plot threads, and filler that doesn't end up mattering in any capacity. Can the conclusion to "The New York Five" (and possibly the whole "The New York X" storyline) avoid the pitfalls and deliver an ending that this saga truly deserves? Let's find out together.

From the minute this reviewer got his hands on the first chapter of this miniseries, the aspect of the writing that stood out was the amazing characterization that each of the main protagonists received. The writer quickly established that each of these girls have different voices, motivations and flaws, and it is through that work that this story had become one of my most anticipated reads in my pull list. Issue #4's impact is felt immediately, as an event happens that rocks the four NYU girls to the core. Up until to this point, we have seen this intimate sorority of females, who united under a common goal (changing their living conditions), fall apart as they deal with the circumstances of their own lives. The event not only allows these characters to realize how their actions have affected their friendships, but how their choices have impeded on their own development as people. By showing us how one person can affect so many people, it gives even more resonance to each of the final scenes in this book, as the reader is shown how even one person we barely knew can affect so many lives. In a medium where New York City is sometimes portrayed in a way where the everyday story of the average person simply doesn't matter, "The New York Five" provides a nice contrast, due to the amazing work of Brian Wood.

For as much as the writing takes center stage in "The New York X" storyline, the art has never come second in any capacity. Just as Wood brings the characters to life with his writing, Ryan Kelly brings the world surrounding this story to life with his art. The black and white colored setting adds personality to the city at large, as the work on each of the structures stands out, and tells its own story while adding to the story at large. Another thing that definitely needs to be commended is how amazingly well the characters are drawn. With the inkwork taking center stage in this black and white setting, the emotions that each character feels is magnified, and it helps the reader get drawn in the story that much more. With such amazing work, the only visible drawback occurs from pages 13 – 21 where Jim Rugg takes over on inks, and can't truly replicate the amazing character drawings of Kelly (Not that he does a bad job, mind you, it's just that Kelly does an amazing job). That being said, Rugg still does a great job with the backgrounds and settings, including one sequence in particular that gives the proceedings even more of an impact. It all adds up to a phenomenal effort all around, despite the slight miss in some of the visuals.

While this reviewer knows that he's gushing with praise for the story and the art, he would be remiss if he didn't make a mention of how new readers wouldn't truly understand why this issue hits all notes so damn well. The statement "You Had to be there" fits well with this issue, as its rewards are mostly for those who have read the whole story. That being said, to those of you out there that love fleshed out character work, enjoy amazingly done stories, or simply want to sample something different from the average fair, I not only recommend picking up "The New York Five" when it comes to trade, but I also encourage you to pick up its prequel "The New Your Four", which is available in stores as we speak. The amazing writing and stupendous art combine to make a story that would seemingly appeal to only teenage girls/young women from the pitch, to an engaging tale that could appeal to all kinds of people, which is an accomplishment that deserves an extremely high level of praise.

The Verdict

Story/Writing *****: Brian Wood delivers the best chapter of this story yet (a major accomplishment, I assure you), as he uses one event to bring things full circle, and to deliver a powerful message, while writing an amazing tale of growing up in the greatest city in the world, a simply phenomenal accomplishment.

Art ****3/4: Ryan Kelly's (and Jim Rugg's) work continues to be everything it needs to be and more. The black and white color scheme allows the city to come alive, and the characters emotions to leap from the page, displaying a near perfect artistic tour de force.

Accessibility ****: The ending is everything it needs to be as it rewards readers with the type of closure that this story deserves. Even if new readers may not completely understand why it works so well out of the box, it allows the veterans to give the highest recommendations, ensuring that this world will be revisited time and time again.

Final Judgment: ***** (Transcendent)

The Knight's Shelf: The New York Five #4

The Knight's Shelf: The New York Five #4

The Knight's Shelf: The New York Five #4

The Knight's Shelf: The New York Five #4

Review by: Linwood Earl Knight

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