Monday, February 2, 2015

Review - Nutmeg #1


"It was this--'knowing what you know now, would you do it again?'"

Middle and high school are tough from a social ladder standpoint. It's toughest at the bottom of the ladder, when those at the top find it exciting to make life even more difficult for those at the bottom. Dealing with the top calls for a special a manner of revenge; one that's served as baked goods in Nutmeg #1 from Action Lab Entertainment. The issue is written by James F. Wright and illustrated by Jackie Crofts.

Poppy is low on the social ladder at an all-girls middle school. That makes her a perfect target for harassment by Saffron, the snobby rich girl running the show. Poppy befriends Cassia--the new kid in school--and uses her knowledge and relationship with Saffron to stop from picking on Cassia. When the brownie fundraiser comes around, Cassia works with Poppy to make a run at Saffron and her popularity ways.

Nutmeg #1 has all the makings of a high school social scene which pits one social class against the other. It's been billed as Breaking Bad meets Mean Girls and the work is definitely an intersection between the two. Wright capitalizes on the familiar popularity contest in school story and mixes in a little bit of revenge in the form of altering brownies. Cassia and Poppy make a pretty interesting duo united against a common foe in Saffron, yet it's Cassia who seems to be more of the sneaky one of the two.

Nutmeg #1 has a look that's very eye-catching. Crofts style is very art deco in some ways, as she relies on sharp angles to define the characters. She frames the characters so they get full attention as well, providing little in the way of background detail. The colors are very muted for the most part as well, save for a few of the students' hair colors that really pop. The panels are outlined with a unique border that gives the book more of a scrapbook feel than anything else, which is fittingly appropriate considering the content matter.

Nutmeg #1 is pretty airy on its surface, but it quickly veers down a slightly darker path towards the end. The premise is pretty straightforward, yet it manages to find new avenues to explore by the end of the book. Wright peppers the book with springy dialogue that keeps the story aloft and moving, paced in a fashion that's in line with expectations. Crofts' artistic style is a real gem, as it infuses a vividness to the issue that helps it to maintain a fresh, youthful appeal. Nutmeg #1 is slightly unconventional at some points, but it's a trait that the creators capitalize on to make the book different than others like it.

Nutmeg #1, priced at $3.99 for 32 pages, can be preordered with Diamond code JAN15 0927.

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