Review: Friday Chapter One, “The Girl in the Trees”


It’s always exciting to see a new release from Panel Syndicate as you know you’ll be treated to quality. When you get a release that’s completely unexpected, it’s hard to not want to dive in right away. Friday was a surprise announcement today featuring writer Ed Brubaker, artist Marcos Martin, and colorist Muntsa Vicente. A group of talent that makes you take notice right away. And it’s good, really good.

Friday Fitzhugh—girl detective—and Lancelot Jones—her best friend and also the smartest boy in the world—spent their childhoods solving crimes and digging up occult secrets. But that was years ago. And now Friday is in college and starting a new life on her own. She’s moved on. Until she returns home for the holidays and is immediately pulled back into Lance’s orbit.

Friday is what comes next after the young adult series. The protagonists have grown up and some have made steps into the bigger world. It’s that awkwardness we feel when returning “home” after a time away.

Brubaker delivers a horror tinged debut that really focuses on the relationship between the two main characters. At its heart, it’s an experience so many of us can relate to. While the young adult version of these two adventures might be more focused on the mystery, this more adult fair is about the two characters. It’s a comic about relationships, it just so happens to have some horror elements within.

And the mystery is solid.

Friday delivers numerous wtf moments but Brubaker’s focus elsewhere won’t have you frustrated at the lack of reveals in the mystery. The scares is more of the driver about the characters, not the initial focus and point of the debut issue.

The art by Marcos Martin and color Muntsa Vicente help deliver the horror flavor to Brubaker’s relationship focus. The art is amazing with detail to guide your eye and teasing so much more. There’s a use of teases throughout as the story mixes the visual and dialogue to build the greater mystery. We’re not shown what’s carved on a tree, we get a glimpse of that and then further hints as to what it means. It’s a solid mixture of show and tell giving the comic a more prose like feel.

Martin delivers expressive characters with unique designs that tell us much about their personality. The horror elements never dive into scare territory or even that creepy. Instead, there’s a general unease about it all. Muntsa Vicente’s colors help creating a dour and morose feel to the comic. It’s winter and you can feel the coldness of the town with the color choices of blues, blacks, and whites. The use of reds and yellows too help change the mood of panel and pages helping to create an emotional ride.

Friday was an unexpected release and one that is more than welcome. It’s the start of a great mystery where the relationship between the protagonists is the main point. The emotional driver and scares isn’t what’s being carved into a tree or an old tale but how Friday and Lancelot relate to each other. It’s a brilliant next step for those who want to see what’s possible after the young adult adventures.

Purchase: Panel Syndicate

Story: Ed Brubaker Art: Marcos Martin Color: Muntsa Vicente
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy