Review - Black Badge #1 (@boomstudios)

"So what are you guys even doing on this tour?"

Scout badges have evolved in their subject matter with the times. Badges previously devoted to solely surviving in the woods have given way to badges devoted to valuable life skills. That being said, it's highly unlikely the Black Badge will exist outside of Black Badge #1 from BOOM! Studios. The issue is written by Matt Kindt, illustrated by Tyler Jenkins, colored by Hilary Jenkins and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Among their organization, the Black Badges are the elite; the best of the best. They are feared even by the other badges. The missions they take are dangerous, and they will only get worse as their leader's attention is split between their mission objectives and tracking down a lost team member. A team member who disappeared years ago, presumed dead. A haunting look at foreign policy, culture wars and isolationism through the lens of kids who know they must fix the worlds that adults have broken.

After reading Black Badge #1 there's one thing made abundantly clear: Kindt can sure write characters. Each of the characters have their own unique personality traits that are embodied in different ways and how Kindt melds them all together is quite beautiful. And those characters are very important for the premise of the story as Kindt offers a perspective of innocent youth for the jaded lens of adulthood. Kindt knows that the way children see the world is vastly different than the way adults do primarily owing to experience and the way Kindt robs the main characters of their childhood in a way is somewhat heartbreaking. That being said, Kindt's pace is furious as the story unfolds in following the members of the team on their mission and the story is presented in a way that really makes the reader feel as if they're along for the ride.

Considering the somewhat heady subject matter of the work, Jenkins' illustrations are appropriately loose and free-flowing, adding another layer of depth to the overall narrative. Each panel is composed with the characters front and center, reminding the reader that the setting doesn't really matter as much as the fact that youths are at the center of the proceedings. Jenkins relies on a very loose approach that gives the story plenty of room to breathe; a notion further expounded upon by the use of oversized panels in places that seem to stretch the art outside of the boundaries. The artwork evokes Wes Anderson imagery with a flair for providing drama to the mundane. Hilary Jenkins' colors are wonderful as well, infusing the book with very distinct moods depending on the action occurring on the page.

Black Badge #1 is a succinct yet solid opening salvo in a war on innocence. The Black Badges are a group that's known only by whispers, largely because of their ability to be the best there is and uniquely qualified to take on intricate missions. Kindt's script is easygoing and enjoyable, with even Kindt throwing a nod to his previous work (not sure there's many people with the Theories of Mind Management badge). Jenkins' illustrations are beautifully relaxed, providing a sense of intensity in their simplicity. Black Badge #1 is a great first issue that defines the characters, establishes to setting and then dives right in.

Black Badge #1 is available now.