Youth graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Dark Horse - 978-1-50672-461-4
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2021
  • UPC: 9781506724614
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Crime, Drama, LBGT, Superhero

Over the opening chapter Curt Pires goes all out to hammer home disenfranchised youth, splitting the angst and disenchantment of Holden Caulfield over five teenagers. From what we see, it’s not that some of them at least haven’t got good cause for their state of mind. Take River. He’s gay in a small town, the father he loved died of cancer, and the replacement model his mother’s provided is a complete dick. He wants his mother to be happy, and she seems to be, but River’s smart enough to realise that constant rows are going to be an impediment to that, so he’d be better hitting the road. His boyfriend Franklin is up for it as well, sick of ignorant bigots and the dumb manager at the fast food joint where he works. In short order they meet Jan, Kurt and Trixy.

What seems to be a multi-person Thelma and Louise takes a decidedly different turn by the time the opening chapter ends devastatingly, the events leading to it explained in the second chapter. Pires has an interesting storytelling style. It’s refreshingly minimal and fast paced, readers told what they need to know, left to join the dots concerning secondary matters and very dependent on an awareness of how comics can work.

Alex Diotto’s artistic detail is tight while his people are sketchy, sometimes almost existing on the edge of consciousness, blurred, loose and moving. In essence, though, he keeps things simple, drawing the eye where it needs to go, and stepping up the power for the big moments.

Despite the side issues, Youth essentially deals with super powers. What would five kids with problems do if suddenly able to hold off an army? Pires takes a decidedly more realistic run at the idea than is found in traditional superhero comics, as there’s no thought of putting on a costume and striking fear into the hearts of evil-doers. It’s more a case of might making right and how people would feel after that.

Pires leaves the door open for a follow-up, but in the context of what Youth is, it comes across more as a sarcastic joke than anything he seriously intends. The story has been told, it ends abruptly, but it’s surely said what needs to be said, and done that innovatively and satisfyingly. Nevertheless, Season Two follows.