Story: Adam Smith
Art: V.V. Glass
Colors: Hilary Jenkins
Letterer: Jim Campbell
What They Say:
Nervous about having to see his ex, Ludo Carre gives her a phone call to explain he’ll be returning to the old base they grew up on. Big laughs and a familiar sort of cadence in Arlo’s voice don’t just instantly calm him down they make him excited to see her. That excitement only hurts him more when they show up the next day and find out Arlo has been missing…for the last week.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With a planned three-issue run, the opening 44-page installment of this series definitely sets the stage well. Adam Smith spends a good bit of time on getting us into Ludo’s head and understanding him at this point in his life while also ensuring that we see some of it from the parental point of view before everything falls apart. We also get some solid artwork that fits the book well with what Vv Glass does here, going for something of a minimalist approach to the time on the base and just how empty and expansive it is in Texas. It’s the kind of book that feels like 1994 Texas in way too many ways as it brought back certain memories pretty easily for me.
The premise is a little drawn out but what we get works well as we’re introduced to a young man named Ludo. He’s had the life of a lot of military kids in that he’s transferred around a lot as his mother is military police. That makes it hard to connect with other kids as living on the base is a distinct thing from how everyone else lives, which is something that he has in common with Arlo, a young woman he meets at a welcome to the base party. That they had to move on some time later was pretty much expected and seeing that gap and how it’s made Ludo fairly lonely is no surprise, though I loved the tapes that they made together in the past that he keeps playing while doing things, giving him that kind of connection to her that he needs until he can see her again. Which is coming up soon as there’s a road trip planned to go visit others there for a boxing match that Ludo’s mother is involved with.
The gimmick comes in toward the end in that Arlo has been missing for weeks – which is a shock to Ludo as he talked to her the night before arriving on the base – and that sets up plenty of problems for the next issue. But what most of this book does is work through the issues that Ludo is dealing with, an anger that’s just barely under the surface over the world. That comes from the moving, the separation, the fact that the garage his father owns is closing down, and just that sense of everything going on. There’s a distance between him and his parents that they’re trying to bridge but struggle with and we see how easily set off he is when it comes to other kids in school since he’s easily mocked for various reasons. It’s a hard hole to get out of and one that it feels like other people push you deep into, making it even worse.
Adam Smith really works things well to get us into the mindset of Ludo and understanding what his family is like and seeing the young love between him and Arlo take root, initially in a Pitfall game of all things. It’s a slow burn story here for the first installment and with it clocking in at twice the length of your average comic it’s got the space to let it spread and unfold. I really like the overall tone and narrative while wanting to know more of this family situation – and to see more of the positive time between Ludo and Arlo. That things end in a stark way here isn’t a surprise and it sets up what’s to come well, which I’m definitely looking forward to seeing as it could pretty much be anything at this point. Smith’s got the character stuff down well here and I love Glass’ artwork as there are a lot of strong panels and the layouts as a whole to capture both the personal and the expansive emptiness of it all.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Lion Forge
Release Date: June 26th, 2019