Review - 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1 (@blackmaskstudio)

"Now let get all of this cleaned up before my dad--"

The saying goes that kids say the darnedest things. Clearly they have to get what they say from somewhere and sometimes that somewhere is from observing some less than stellar individuals. It's not often though that the kids can hold their own against the aforementioned individuals, but it does in 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1 from Black Mask Studios. The issue is written by Matthew Rosenberg, illustrated by Tyler Boss, flatted by Clare Dezutti, lettered by Thomas Mauer and wallpaper design by Courtney Menard.

A fun(ish) crime caper about children! Eleven-year-old Paige and her weirdo friends have a problem: a gang of ex-cons need her dad's help on a heist...the problem is those ex-cons are morons. If Paige wants to keep her dad out of trouble, she's going to have to pull off the heist herself.

While the title sounds like the start of a bad joke, Rosenberg ensures that 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank is something with a much more enjoyable punchline. The introduction of the four kids is pretty fantastic and is done in direct contrast to that of the ex-cons in that there's a clear juxtaposition of personality traits between the two. Rosenberg cleanly presents all the players to the reader in a rapid-fire way that still manages to give each one plenty of unique traits so that they all don't feel like one big jumble. The dialogue really helps in this regard since Rosenberg doesn't shy away from crass language where appropriate. The ending of the first issue also offers a very intriguing set-up when compared to the rest of the issue, serving almost as a misdirect of sorts.

The artwork by Boss is very minimal that evokes old-school Archie comics. He relies on extremely simple and clean lines for all the characters who also work with equally minimalistic backgrounds. Each of the characters (both kids and ex-cons) are very expressive in a way that's befitting of their personalities. Boss also stacks the pages with crowds of panels, including a few pages that boast as many as 24 small, square panels that give all the kids their own part in a much larger conversation. Most of the issue also resides in washed-out tones that adds a flashback mentality to the work to help enforce the older vibe pervasive throughout the issue.

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1 is a very spirited story that blends elements of Peanuts and Quentin Tarantino into something that also boasts the nerd cred of Dungeons and Dragons. The four kids are very intelligent and boast a variety of personality types that work surprisingly well when interacting with the ex-cons. Rosenberg's story is paced methodically in a slow-burn way that doesn't rush anything. Boss' illustrations are delightfully nostalgic in a way that grounds the book in relatively simplistic sensibilities. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1 offers an awesome combination of story and art that's out there in a pretty imaginative way.

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1 is in stores now.