This BOOM! Studios offering ushers in an engaging start to a limited series that is unlike most of the books I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far. I’m down with Sci-Fi, and have enjoyed the BOOM! Studios books I’ve been reading. This Buckhead title also promises a taste of Afrofuturism, woven into a story of the adventures of a family of Nigerian immigrants in the small American town of Buckhead, Washington. So, when I soon found this is a place that seems to hold more than just a few curiosities, I knew I wanted to ride this ride. But don’t worry, no spoilers.
Written by: Shobo
Art by: George Kambadais
Lettered by Jim Campbell
This story begins panel 1 in Nigeria’s Benin City, where our protagonist’s mother and father are working on a project together. They are clearly talented scientists, working with a dedicated team. When something yields a bit of a surprise on their excavation project, we make a jump. Now it’s a year later, and Toba and his Mom have moved to America, to Buckhead in Washington state. It looks like any small town. But things are a bit unusual here, and we are given several teases as to some of the ways things are strange, if not why. (I really want to know more about why, in case you’re wondering what I’m hoping for next!)
THIS STORY KEEPS THINGS MOVING
By the time we get a bit of a look at the neighborhood, Toba’s school and a few classmates, and see a climactic and mysterious moment that come together pretty quickly, the issue is over! I can honestly say that as soon as I got settled in, I felt like it was already the last page. For me, this tends to be a good sign. This is a story that shows rather that tells you what’s going on in a stilted way; it propels itself so that the pages seem to turn themselves.
CONSIDERING ART AND STORY
The art suits the style and YA angle, though there are a few jarring moments visually. More on that for the next issue, because there’s still plenty to enjoy about the art too. I’m hoping the off-kilter moments for me were more related to the creators’ choice to be most elaborate with the art where it’s more crucial to the story, and to focus on the point of view and angles rather than the smaller details of the art at moments when the mood is at least as important as the look of the pages. I believe this is possible because there are a variety of compelling viewpoints of the characters used here, and they come across really strongly. The artist appears to have taken care to use good modeling for representing unique, underused perspective angles.
Paneling style takes some nice creative turns here and there. It’s not that there’s anything groundbreaking, but it’s not unnoticeable either. For example, there’s a page where the angles are tilted on the panels, and one character’s head rises above the border as they are in front of the panel it follows, instead of being cropped so that her face becomes partially lost to fit the borders. This choice has an inviting, fully dimensional effect that made me feel drawn into the setting with the characters for a moment. Speaking of being invited into the story, I also like that they changed the art style during a game sequence such that it was both more retro and “artificial” with some elements of the game, while also lending a lot more detail to the clothing (or, more seasoned gamers, are these “skins?”) the first-person players get to wear inside the game.
BUILDING THE MYSTERY
Also, without giving away too much, two things are also clear. Something happens to Toba’s father early in this story, and he has not made the trip to the US with the rest of the family. By the end of the first issue, we have a lot more questions than answers about what really happened and what is coming. This story is begging for a second issue and that is why I had it on my pull for some time before I started this advance review. Buckhead may look like Small Town, USA, but don’t get it twisted. This place is more full of mysteries, like Once Upon A Time’s town of “Storybrook,” so I’m ready for this creative team to bring it on after their great set-up!
Buckhead #1, by BOOM! Studios, is a great start to a limited series about a family in Buckhead, WA who immigrated from Nigeria. We soon find that there is much more to this town than meets the eye, and perhaps even more to the reasons this family has come so far to such a seemingly unusual and mysterious, but well-hidden place. BOOM! Studios seems to have done it again, leaving me wanting more of this story as soon as possible.