Christopher Sebela is a master at crafting intricate, fascinating worlds that grab your attention from the very beginning. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Welcome Back, a series which explored forbidden love in a world of reincarnation and assassination. Now, with Pantomime, he’s exploring the bonds of chosen family set against the background of daring and elaborate heists—and that’s only the beginning of what this comic has to offer.
Haley is a deaf teen. She has plenty of relatives, but her only real family is her brother Max and their mother. When their mother dies, Haley and Max are sent to a school for kids with special needs. There, they meet a group of other signing teens and form a friendship that may be stronger than the tenuous bonds of family.
There’s Kestrel, the non-binary kid with selective mutism, who interprets for their hearing professors. Lexi is the pretty and popular girl, Queen Bee of the group, but not in a mean or overbearing way. And Harry is the smart one, driven to learn everything he can about anything he can.
Their friendship is the best thing to happen to Haley, and in the wake of her mother’s death, it’s exactly what she needs; however, protecting this friendship may require some breaking and entering, and a few other morally dubious acts.
The story is told from Haley’s point of view. To that end, characters signing to one another are given word balloons, so we can tell what they’re saying; however, when characters merely speak out loud, their words are represented by incomprehensible squiggles. It’s an interesting device and helps to get us immersed in Haley’s world.
I’m loving this comic so far. The story is great, and Sebela’s writing is complemented beautifully by David Stoll’s artwork to create a fascinating experience that grabs you right from the beginning. But what really makes this comic stand out is the characters. From some of my descriptions (“the popular one,” “the smart one”), they may seem like stock teen characters, but, really, they’re anything but. It’s only the first issue, but they’re already all well fleshed out, with complex histories that drive who they are and what they do. The groundwork is clearly being laid for a lot more to come. I can’t wait to see what it is and how things play out.
Creative Team: Christopher Sebela (writer), David Stoll (artist), Dearbhla Kelly (colorist), Justin Birch (letterer), Chris Sanchez (editor), and Jamie Vander Clute (diversity reader)
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
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