Review - Relics of Youth #1 (@thevaultcomics)

"But he seemed different. Like a true believer."

Treasure hunts always have the promise of a big payoff at the end, but very rarely does that payoff come without some sacrifice. In Relics of Youth #1 from Vault Comics, a group of kids aren't necessarily looking for treasure, although they still end up on a dangerous adventure. The issue is written by Matt Nicholas and Chad Rebmann, illustrated by Skylar Partridge, colored by Vladimir Popov and lettered by Andworld Design.

Nat Rodrigues keeps dreaming of an island. Soon, the dreams become waking visions. Alone and concerned, Nat manages to locate other teenagers across the globe who share her intense obsession with the unmapped enclave. And then, the strangest part: Every one of them wakes one morning with a mysterious tattoo. A tattoo only the six of them can see. Now, each of them knows-no matter the obstacles in their way-they must discover this unknown paradise.

There's a lot to unpack in the first issue of Relics of Youth #1, although it's expected that Nicholas and Rebmann have a grander plan in mind. There are six main characters who are carrying to narrative, with each of them sharing a mysterious tattoo that leads them to an even more mysterious island in the Bermuda Triangle. The writers pretty much hit all the Breakfast Club personality types to give them some diversity and there's plenty of disagreement amongst the group as the personalities mesh together. One concern with the issue is the pacing; Nicholas and Rebmann really crash through quite a bit in the first issue in an effort to establish the tone and direction of the series. There were quite a few points in the issue where it felt like the issue would end yet continued on, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it does feel a little hurried at points.

Keeping with the aforementioned diversity, Partridge does an excellent job of giving each character a look that's unique to them and helps distinguish them from one another. Partridge's linework is on the thicker side, with each character demonstrating clear definition against the sparsely illustrated settings. There's also little in the way of detail when it comes to facial expressions, as Partridge offers just enough to convey to the reader the prevailing emotion at the time. The panels are arranged very neatly with matching black borders, providing a sense of order to the frantically paced story. Popov's colors are bold as well, allowing articles of clothing and the ocean for instance to really pop and infuse the issue with a sense of youth.

Relics of Youth #1 parlays a Scooby Doo mystery and gang of kids into a mysterious treasure hunt. Nat wants answers and has the right people now to help her find them, even if they get in over their heads in terms of their exploration. Nicholas and Rebmann have a good plot in mind, even if the first issue crashes through a lot of set-up to move things forward in future issues. Partridge's artwork is effective at capturing the youth of the characters, giving each of them unique looks that add to the story. Relics of Youth #1 relies on a lot of common tropes as it unfolds, but there is an expectation that things will get more unpredictable as the series progresses.

Relics of Youth #1 is available September 25.