The holidays can be a tough time of year for many people. This is especially true for Friday Fitzhugh, a young woman who comes home to her small New England town after her first semester at college and finds herself embroiled in a mystery. This situation is not novel to her, because she spent most of her childhood traipsing over town with her best friend Lancelot Jones, solving mysteries, foiling villains, and discovering all sorts of magical items. Something menacing and mysterious is lurking in the woods outside of town, driving some townfolk mad. However, something happened just before she left for college that estranged her from Lance, and she does not know quite how (or if) to deal with it.
Friday is a sort of version of Sally Kimball, tough and athletic and able to be a body guard for her friend. Also, she is a multi-faceted young woman who is trying to figure out her place in the world, and what a strange world it is. The seaside New England town where this book is set is like a character unto itself, full of interesting characters, adjoining a creepy forest, and a focal point for dark magic.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and I may just be the perfect
demographic for it. It smacks of things I read when I was a kid, like
the Encyclopedia Brown series and John Bellairs novels, only with a twist that carries them beyond a children's book perspective. The characters and setting coalesce organically in the tightly plotted narrative, plus the artwork is exceptional. It is full of atmosphere, and I loved poring over pages to admire the archaic architecture, creepy critters, and spot-on character designs. My admiration of the art, along with the need for checking for clues to the mystery, led me to re-read this book a few times for fun. The worst thing I can say about it is that it is a long prologue for the real narrative, because the last few pages of the book add a twist that I did not see coming. But it's so incredibly intriguing and well crafted that I really did not care. It's a great piece of genre fiction, and I cannot wait for the next two books to see how things resolve.
Friday is a collaboration between writer Ed Brubaker, artist Marcos Martin, and colorist Muntsa Vicente. Brubaker is a multi-award winning comics creator whose works include Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito, Fatale, The Fade-Out, and Kill or Be Killed. Martin has also won Eisner Awards for his art in the superhero series Daredevil and the webcomic The Private Eye. Vicente has done design and illustration work for a number of high profile clients and more recently has also gotten into coloring comics.
Friday won the 2021 Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic, and all of the reviews I have read about this book have been positive. Publishers Weekly wrote that "this atmospheric first installment sets up compelling sequels, with a sucker punch ending that demands follow-up." Luke Chant opined, "Ed Brubaker’s script is excellent, while Marcos Martín and Muntsa Vincente combine to do a great job capturing the 70s feel." Steve Baxi called it "an incredible start to what is sure to be an incredible series."