One of my personal favorite genres in comic books is the coming-of-age story. The coming-of-age story is defined as genre in literature that focuses on the growth of a character from youth to adulthood. It’s often set in the past and uses various techniques to show the journey of the character, or in the cast of this comic book, characters. It’s a genre that many people can relate to and often gain some insight about themselves that they may have never noticed. The mere fact that this comic series falls under this genre already makes me want to read it even more. Dead End Kids #1, which is published by Source Point Press, is written by Frank Gogol, illustrated and colored by Nenad Cviticanin, and lettered by Sean Rinehart. It follows Tank, Amanda, and Murphy as they deal with the death of their best friend, Ben. The story is told through the perspective of Murphy and focuses on how this group of friends will attempt to deal with this unfortunate even on top of dealing with their own personal issues.
From the first few pages, Dead End Kids #1 managed to grab my attention and got me to understand what sort of story this would be. It introduces the main characters who will be the focus of this coming-of-age story without necessarily revealing too much. The main purpose is to set up the character of Ben and to put just how important he was to them in the mind of the reader. The way this small town is drawn and the colors that were chosen in this page fit perfectly with the description of a story that’s about this group’s “best years of their lives”.
One of the most intriguing elements in the opening pages was the inclusion of the first verse of the song “The Kids Aren’t Alright” by The Offspring. The lead singer of the band, Dexter Holland, has stated the the song was inspired by his childhood and an incident in which someone he knew who lived in his neighborhood died from being hit by a car. It wouldn’t surprise me if the song lyrics were included as a way to allude to what happens to Ben.
The dynamics that the group of friends have with their own families was briefly touched upon. I’m sure more will be revealed in future issues, but what was included in this comic was enough to set up why the kids are the way they are. Amanda has a pop-punk aesthetic to rebel against her mother who has fallen under the Y2K conspiracy. Murphy is living with a foster family who he refuses to acknowledge. Frank has health issues but not much was revealed about how his parents handle them. I am eager to see where the family dynamics go from here and what role they will play in the coming-of-age stories from the central characters.
As mentioned before, one of the important aspects of this series will be the strong relationships that these four characters have formed with one another. It’s been established that Ben had a leader-type role since the rest of the group sought him out for support. They throw a surprise birthday party for him and sing songs from 1999. The page shown above helps me understand how close they were, almost like a family. Their own families weren’t what they wanted, so they came together to form their own. But now that Ben is gone, it’ll be interesting to see how this family manages to hold on.
One aspect of this series that I wasn’t expecting was its inclusion of a mystery. Without going into spoilers, this mystery does a perfect job with setting up what’s on the line and gives the group a reason to stay together. The mystery fits perfectly within the genre of this comic and will surely add unique situations that these characters will have to deal with.
Ultimately, I enjoyed Dead End Kids #1 from start to finish. Having just taken a coming-of-age class during the spring semester, I can fully appreciate this comic so much more. Being a fan of pop-punk music, I personally enjoyed the inclusion of all the references to the genre, like the poster of The Ramones seen in Amanda’s bed and when the group is inside the cabin singing “All the Small Things” by Blink 182.
Everything about Dead End Kids #1 was done well and the entire creative team may have just created one of my favorite comic series of all time. Overall, I truly believe that this is a comic series that would fit well as a John Hughes-like movie.
Dead End Kids #1
Everything about Dead End Kids #1 was done well and the entire creative team may have just created one of my favorite comic series of all time.