Starting a team is hard. First, you’ve got to make friends, then you’ve got to put in the paperwork and by the time you’re ready to play half your team has walked away. But if you’re Olivia Bates, putting a team together is a whole different story as seen in BOOM! Box’s The Avant-Guards #2, written by Carly Usdin, illustrated by Noah Hayes, with colors by Rebecca Nalty, and lettering by Ed Dukeshire.
Issue #2 kicks things off by backtracking to the last few scenes of issue #1 with one major twist. Instead of following Charlie, we re-watch these scenes and most of the issue from Olivia’s point of view. With this new perspective, we get a better picture of the Avant-Guards and just what drives them. The swap in perspective switches things up for the better and offers a welcome change of pace.
I’m impressed with how distinctively Usdin captures the characters’ voices. Olivia’s mind moves a mile a minute, so her pages are peppered with thought captions. Charlie gets flustered whenever she talks about herself, so she prefers to let her facial expressions do the trick.
Of course, Olivia and Charlie aren’t the only members of the Avant-Guards. There’s a whole roster of would-be ballplayers. In issue #2, we get a chance to spend a little time going one on one with the rest of the team. Ashley’s a triple threat who sings like Beyonce, parties like Rihanna, and balls like Lebron. Resident witch Tiffany has got your back if you ever need a new set of energizing crystals, while the cynical Nicole will always tell it to you straight. And of course, there’s the towering Jay, a person of few words and plenty of artistic talent.
Now nailing an ensemble cast is tricky and the best bet is to show, don’t tell. That means that it’s way more effective to show what you want your character to convey rather than telling us about it. This especially goes for comic books where page space is limited. Carly Usdin gets around this impasse by giving her characters something to do.
Charlie’s the missing piece in the Avant-Guard puzzle, the last player they need to form a team. But she’s not sure she wants to join. It’s up to each member of the Avant-Guards to convince her to join in their own special way. Their varied attempts at persuasion, sorcery, and trickery sold me on this cast lovable oddballs. I mean anybody can make a flier or write a pros and cons list, but only an Avant-Guard will steal a strand of your hair and offer it up to the goddess. That’s “showing” in action, which shows me this creative team knows what they’re doing.
Another highlight of The Avant-Guards #2 is Noah Hayes and Rebecca Nalty’s evolving style. The book has a millennial pop sensibility. It’s full of bright colors, creative backgrounds and wildly expressive faces and body types. It’s an inviting style that really fits nicely with the books breezy tone.
The Avant-Guards #2 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
The Avant Guards #2
The Avant Guards #2 has a millennial pop sensibility. It’s full of bright colors, creative backgrounds and wildly expressive faces and body types.