Comic Review – Young Terrorists #1 (Black Mask Studios)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I’m reviewing Young Terrorists #1 from Black Mask Studios, a massive 80 page first issue written by Matt Pizzolo and drawn by Amancay Nahuelpan, with colours by Jean-Paul Csuka and letters from Jim Campbell. If you’re unfamiliar with Black Mask Studios, they largely set out to tell subversive, hard-edged stories with a punk-rock/counter culture ethos to them. Young Terrorists is no different.

0c25152b-612f-4f06-bd89-f62c53d02fb1In the world of Young Terrorists, the world is ruled from the shadows by various cabals of mega-elites that are identified as The Black Temple, The Red Shield and The Golden Annapolis, outlined by a ranting man on a video stream called Infocide. The leader of The Black Temple, Gregor Solomon, is killed when a woman detonates a briefcase bomb behind him in a coffee shop queue, taking herself out and everyone else in the Starbucks replica. His daughter, Sera is framed for having some connection to his death and is taken away from her school and dumped in an internment camp, tortured and interrogated about a crime she has no knowledge about. Her brother is nowhere to be found. She eventually gains her freedom, not through conventional release but by winning enough brutal fights as to pay off some form off debt, and given a means of escape.

Years pass, and Sera has established a resistance movement masquerading as an illegal darknet entertainment network, including a fight club that she actively takes part in. Operating in a ‘failed state’ area in Detroit, the group streams these fights and pornography to those members of the public willing to dive in, and are allowed autonomy by the state within reason. A new recruit, a young Guatemalan named Cesar, is d0a172b7-c400-4e68-8b27-81e5cc1a133crescued from a horrible wandering existence by a member of Sera’s group, so we are introduced to this world through his eyes. While Sera takes him under her wing and seems to show a kindly side to the confused young man, it seems that she has plans for him. Plans that involve the group discovering the location of her brother. Plans that involve violence.

This is a brash, bratty comic takes its various influences, from Fight Club and its Project Mayhem to Rage Against the Machine’s Know Your Enemy, and pins them right to its chest. The writing from Pizzolo is on point and biting, and despite being a middle finger to authority and an attack on the status quo and ‘the grid’, he doesn’t lack the levity to poke fun in a tongue-in-cheek way at the sort of scaremongering conspiracy theorist ranting that can be found online (or on FOX news, in the Daily Mail etc.) through Infocide. First issues often either focus on character and lack a convincing display of the scale of the story, or do the reverse and lack real compelling character depth. By heading out the gate with this bumper 80 page first issue, Young Terrorists deftly avoids this problem by having the space to breathe life into both its story and characters.

The art from newcomer Nahuelpan is very strong too, full of bold and heavy line work and aggressive and visceral fight scenes. Csuka’s colours add an oppressive and washed out feel that seems to zero in on the focus of a scene, highlighting the pencil work well.

Young Terrorists is off to a good start. It is risky in its subversiveness, but for all its shady overtones its an interesting and fun read with great art. This first issue is a little more expensive than most, but the value for money is excellent. The first printing can still be picked up in stores now (my LCS had a decent stack of copies), but they are selling out fast and a second printing is already on its way. Make sure you check this out at your local comic shop or digitally!

Score: 8.5 Shroomgirls out of 10

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