Youth #1 is a new take on both the coming of age and superhero genres from Curt Pires, Alex Diotto, and Dee Cunniffe. It’s about two teenagers, River and Frank, who are kind of, sort of boyfriends, that are fed up with their lives so they steal River’s step dad’s mustang and go on the run. The comic has plenty of attitude, a little bit pretentiousness, and goes full throttle from the first page where Pires and Diotto cross cut between River being berated by his step dad and Frank being berated by his manager and a random customer at the fast food restaurant he works at. (Seriously, everyone seems to be an asshole in this universe.)
My favorite part of Youth #1 is Pires and Diotto’s creative use of grid layouts to introduce characters, ramp up conflict, and pull off one hell of a car chase. They immediately create parallels between River and Frank and establish a relationship between them based on shared trauma even though they don’t appear on panel together eight pages in. Basically, the world treats them like shit so they lash out through one great two panel page punch before slowing down to a more romantic nine panel grid with soft colors from Cunniffe.
After the blows are landed, Curt Pires immediately backpedals and uses a Mike Tyson quote to establish our protagonists as both unreliable narrators and the opposite of role models. With some Pires comics in the past, he seems to over-rely on purple prose narration, but he’s pared down this a lot or undercut it with self-deprecating humor. I enjoy that he and Diotto portray Frank and River as a couple of messed up kids, who fall in with other messed up kids later in the comic crafting a drama filled ensemble cast. Think the attractive cast of a reality television show, but with more overt drug use, assault of police officers, and in a breath of fresh air, queerness.
Heteronormativity is a big no-no in Youth #1 with River and Frank treating their homophobic classmate with a shrug as they skip town in a Mustang, or Frank telling a girl he makes out with at a party that he doesn’t like to label his sexuality. Your average, middle aged boring writer at the Big Two would make the high school bully some great foe for them, but he’s just an annoyance on their way to other adventures like blowing up cars, reenacting Grand Theft Auto, and this issue’s explosive ending.
Rebellion seems to be the central theme of Youth #1 with Frank and River truly having some to rage against as evidenced in the opening scene. However, it seems like some of their peers are rebelling just to rebel like the host of the party, who is the son of a senator, and parties in his huge house while his dad is doing consulting work in Dubai. The line of dialogue and corresponding image from Diotto is sharp satire at the children of well-off people, who choose to act out and rebel, but honestly, it makes sense that the cast of Youth are rough around the edges and can’t articulate their actions into a neat thesis.
Beat up a cop, go on the run, and fuck the consequences because life is short, right. However, the tail end of Youth #1 does introduce some consequences that will shape the narrative of this miniseries as Pires and Diotto introduce change into their story ecosystem like a splash page after a neat grid or car chase scene where you can see every maneuver.
Tone-wise, with its musical influence, teens on the run motif, and lackadaisical approach to superpowers, Youth #1 is We Can Never Go Home meets Chronicle, which is interesting because Pires has a written a few comics for Black Mask Studios. With their messy motivations, lust for life, and distrust of authority, I definitely gravitated to the teens of Youth even though they come across as little assholes at times. But weren’t we all at that age?
Story: Curt Pires Art: Alex Diotto
Colors: Dee Cunniffe Letters: Micah Myers
Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Comixology Originals provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review