Four Kids Walk Into a Bank # 1-2
Written by: Matthew Rosenberg
Illustrated and colored by: Tyler Boss
Lettered by: Thomas Mauer
Published by: Black Mask Studios
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
Last year Black Mask Studios made a giant splash in the independent comic scene with their surprise runaway hit We Can Never Go Home. This year they follow up that success with another heartfelt and engaging indie book called Four Kids Walk Into a Bank.
Four Kids is the charming tale of four young friends who embody the best of youthful geek iconography. Much like the kids from Netflix’s Stranger Things they are kids who are into tabletop RPGs, movies, and video games. They’re a close knit bunch of friends who have each other’s back in tight spots and argue among themselves as many close childhood friends do. The leader of the group in this instance tends to be a scrappy yet kindhearted girl named Paige. Paige is the core of this young group of misfits. She holds them together as a unit and tolerates each member’s various eccentricities as they make they way through fantasy adventures and the travails of junior high school.
Trouble rears its ugly head when four ne’er do wells show up to Paige’s house looking for her dad. Off the bat it’s obvious that none of these guys are members of the local good neighbor society and much of the drama that revolves around these first two issues has to do with the mystery of why Paige’s dad would ever be involved with the likes of the hoodlums looking for him. By the end of the first issue Paige and her friends are off to discover who the yahoos are that are stalking her dad and what she can do to keep him from getting mixed up with them.
The writing in Four Kids is just out and out terrific. Rosenberg captures the essence of being a pre-teen nerd perfectly. The characterization is spot on. Rosenberg’s narrative is reminiscent of movies like Stand By Me or My Bodyguard in that it encapsulates that time in youth when you feel like you are facing the world alone but you knew that you had your friend’s backs and they had yours. Four Kids is successful in grounding its protagonists in the reality of being young and powerless but feeling strong enough to feel like you can defend what’s yours if you have to. Paige and her posse rally when they need to and Rosenberg was able to surprise me with how he was able to present capable tweens without making them seem like cardboard cutouts.
Artist Tyler Boss’s style is perfectly suited for this book. The art is crisp and clean and the storytelling is dead on. There’s a cartoony, almost Chris Ware style to the artwork that evokes emotion but provides a certain amount of distance at the same time. The colors are warm and welcoming and add a bit of a seventies/eighties retro feel to the look of the comic. All in all Four Kids is a solid looking comic that evokes all the right feeling in all the right places.
If you are someone who has jumped onto the Stranger Things bandwagon like much of the internet seemingly has then you’re probably going to like Four Kids Walk Into a Bank. It lacks the supernatural/horror elements of that series but it does have that same sort of heart to it. If you were ever that kid growing up; the kid that grew up being a bit of a misfit that surrounded yourself with other misfits then Four Kids is a book you’re definitely going to enjoy.