Review - Psycho Bonkers #1

"I'll be fine. Just take your foot off my brake."

It's never easy being the latest in a legacy family. The expectations to perform are hoisted upon future generations solely based on what their lineage did before them. It's a gift and a curse, but it generally leads to talented individuals. Individuals such as Shine in Psycho Bonkers #1 from Aspen Comics. The issue is written by Vince Hernandez, illustrated by Adam Archer, colored by Federico Blee and lettered by Josh Reed.

Crack the speed barrier wide open in this thrilling new adventure that redefines what it means to go full throttle. Join Shine, a young but unyielding teenage girl, as she races to find the true story behind the tragedy that wrecked her family, and shattered the sport of Bonk Racing to its core. Along with her trusted technician, Gabbo, and her sentient Bonk Racer, Shiza, she will discover that learning the truth about her future is as dangerous as the tragic past she is trying to forget.

Out of the gate, it's clear that Psycho Bonkers #1 is meant to add the emotion of Speed Racer into a run on tracks in Mario Kart. Hernandez has loaded the first issue with tons of backstory and context, both for Shine as a racer and Shine as a daughter/granddaughter. On the one hand, the issue is pretty heady, as Shine comes from a family with a mark of disgrace applied to it as a result of her father's decisions. On the other hand, the issue feels airy in some ways, as Shine races through tracks that are ridiculously conceived and test her mettle as a racer. Hernandez does a pretty good job blending the two together in a way that either becomes too overbearing.

While the book itself is meant to be all-ages, Archer's illustrative style feels a little more mature. Shine (and all the characters) are illustrated with anime sensibilities that give them clean, defined physiques subject to exaggerated expressions of emotion. Shine herself is the most expressive, relying on a pixie-like appearance as a means of softening the drama of the plot. Archer has a good handle on rendering the frenetic energy that comes with a race, as well as depicting some pretty crazy looking tracks that appear to challenge only the finest racers. Blee's colors are dominated by the red of Shine's race car, standing out amidst a variety of other colors that further set the stage.

Psycho Bonkers #1 is an all-ages book that will appeal to readers young and old. There's a lot of superfluous action in terms of the racing, but then there's also a rather complex relationship between Shine and her father that only they seem to understand. Hernandez pens a script that's equal parts present and flashbacks, giving the reader a lot of information regarding Shine's abilities as a racer and her relative popularity. Archer's illustrations are vibrant and give the book a light feel, ensuring that the racing aspects don't get bogged down by the family strife. Psycho Bonkers #1 is a book that aspires to be more fun than it actually is, but that's more a testament to its desire to be something more than a thoughtless racing book.

Psycho Bonkers #1 is in stores May 20.