Wednesday, December 20, 2017

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank was originally published this year as a 5-issue limited series. Its story focuses on Paige, a tough tomboy who is trying to keep her father out of trouble, only in perhaps the most terrible way imaginable. She may or may not have hatched a plan to rob a bank, so that he will not have the chance to do so first. Led by Paige, the rest of this unlikely quartet of tween wanna-be bank robbers consists of Stretch, who you might have guessed is tall, Berger, who is annoying and profane, and Walter, a soft-spoken science nerd who barfs a lot. Taken as a group, they are a motley crew, fascinating to observe as they interact and especially when they play together.
Of course, along the way are complications. Paige's uncle is a cop who is clearly onto what is happening. There are also multiple squabbles, including ones with bullies at school and ones with the bunch of ex-cons who want to wrangle Paige's dad into trying one more score. Also, the group is into using a CB radio, where they keep interacting with a shady fellow named Doctor Gloryhole, whose name might tip you off that this book is not intended for younger readers..

There are many reasons to recommend this book. The artwork is very attractive, crisp, and clean, and I feel like the characters are not only clearly detailed, they pop off the page they're so vibrant. Also, this book features a lot of snappy dialogue and clever narration. It's fun to read and often funny. The plot is intriguing and interesting. And not to spoil things but the story does not end happily, but I think I'd be disappointed if it had, because this whole situation is such a complicated mess. If I have anything negative to add about this book it's that the final chapter seems a little less well executed than the first four, but it still sticks its landing. Any book that leaves the reader wanting more is successful, I feel.

This story was a collaboration between writer Matthew Rosenberg, artist Tyler Boss, and letterer Thomas Mauer. Rosenberg has written a bunch of comic book series for Marvel and Archie. As far as I can tell this series is Boss's solo debut, though he publishes some of his work online. Mauer has worked in many capacities for several comics companies, and he had a hand in a number of Harvey and Eisner Award nominated and winning titles, including Image Comics’ POPGUN anthology series and the webcomic The Guns of Shadow Valley. Rosenberg speaks about his work on this series in this interview.

I was not able to locate many reviews for the book as a collection, but the ones I did find are very positive. Ben Snyder wrote, "I’m just going to spell this out and make it really simple, 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank is phenomenal and one of the best books that I have read all year. The ending is heartfelt and earned, Paige is one of the best characters in recent memory, and the art is stellar. Pick up this book." Heidi MacDonald called it "a virtuoso performance from the whole team."

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank was published by Black Mask Studios, and they have more info about the series here. You can access a preview of the first chapter (issue) here. This book features some puerile, profane humor as well as some violence, so it is recommended for readers mature enough to handle both.

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