In Big & Tall Tales' new series, Rocket Queen and the Wrench, writer Justin Peniston and artist Ramanda Kamarga have taken the premise of a crime-fighting family of armored heroes and given it a nice twist, focusing on the unspoken impact being a hero can have on those around them.
Two years later, Jamie, now 14, is taking a turn for the worse. Declining grades, trouble with the authorities, and a general bad attitude have led his despairing mother to ship him off to spend the summer with his estranged father. But, what Jamie doesn’t know is that his father is allied with Captain Zoom and the Zoom family, and that his rescue that day was no accident.
Kamarga’s crisp, clean lines owe a nod to Japanese manga style but stand well on their own merit, full of sharp lines, bright and simple colors (by colorist Rainer Petter), and intelligent, moving layouts. His detail of the Zoom family armor shines in every panel with a shiny professionalism and little-to-no visual clutter that some illustrators might have been tempted to overemploy.
Peniston manages to establish character very quickly in the few, but fast-moving, pages he has to work with, opening with a bang to set-up his tale, then managing to convey a depth of emotion in 9 short panels that fill in the two-year jump. While no great surprises leap out at the reader, the storytelling is smooth and easily accessible to young readers.
Above all, the artwork and writing combine to tell a fun story, and readers should look forward to Jamie joining the team in future issues.
VERDICT: FOUR OVERCHARGED ZOOM KEYS OUT OF FIVE