Mexican-American (and questioning) teenager Javi and his friends want to host a party the weekend his parents are out of town. This party will be different, though, as it’s their chance to propel themselves to popularity. Javi just has to convince his sister and avoid the party getting too rowdy. But just as things are starting to look up, everything takes a turn for the absolute worst in the first issue of It’s Only Teenage Wasteland.
You know those movies or shows that start off routinely, with a simple, cookie-cutter premise and then go off the cuff? Like boy meets girl of his dreams who turns out to be a man-eating demon, or friends get together and simply hangout until one of them is kidnapped by an otherworldly force? It’s a tried-and-true formula, and it’s exactly the same for the first issue of this series.
Although the cold open makes it obvious that the series seems to be about something cult-like or apocalyptic, the rest of the issue has you seemingly forget about those first few pages. You delve into what appears to be another relatable high school outsider drama until the very end, where everything is turned on its head. Starting high with a slow build-up of problems before an explosive end keeps the pacing tight while subtly having the reader absorb the story.
Pires’ subtlety is his strength here; he understands that you want to know who the characters are from the start; however, diving right into the mystery is never a good idea, especially for a four-issue limited series. Focusing on the background of our main characters and giving them relatable teenage problems before thrusting them into the unknown compels us to want to know more.
It should go without saying that the art direction by Jacoby Salcedo enhances the subtle, yet enticing, story. The characters look and feel real without being cookie cutter either. Mark Dale’s colors absolutely add to the atmosphere of the comic, blending the story and art together into a cohesive work. Letterer Micah Myers also needs to have a shout-out; sometimes, the lettering of a comic can take away from the story, but Myers’ work is complements it. No word or thought bubble feels out of place and blends well into the issue.
Representation is also a matter of importance when it comes to media, and the series excels here. Having a Mexican-American teenager who is questioning their sexuality as the POV character needs to be applauded. Every side character is unique, too, with their own styles and personalities.
If you’re a fan of awesome concepts, long titles, and great stories, then It’s Only Teenage Wasteland should be something to add to your stocking this year.
Creative Team: Curt Pires (writer); Jacoby Salcedo (art); Mark Dale (colors); Micah Myers (letters); Dave Marshall (editor); Rose Weitz (assistant editor); Sarah Terry (designer); Tyler Lit (digital art technician); Mike Richardson (publisher)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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