Review – Dead End Kids #2 (Source Point Press)

A Dark Tale Continues in Dead End Kids #2

Dead End Kids should win an award for dark storytelling. The first issue captured the attention of its audience and certainly fulfilled the promise of the title. The second issue managed to up the ante while avoiding any predictability that could have been its downfall.

Set in the late ‘90s, this series follows a group of misfit kids as they try to navigate the life handed to them. Their lives haven’t been easy, and if this series is any indication, it isn’t going to get a whole lot easier anytime soon.

Dead End Kids #2 picks up where the previous issue left off, but you may be surprised by some of the twists and turns it takes. The tone is still as dark and eerie as before, and now we have more questions than ever.

Writing

Frank Gogel returned for the second issue of Dead End Kids, and the writing is just as strong as before. Now we’re finally getting into the thick of the plot, yet we still need to learn a shocking amount before any new significant reveals can be made.

Dead End Kids #2 made strong use of flashbacks to tell us a variety of stories. And no matter which direction these tales go, we know they’ll bring us back to the present and our group of misfits. It was actually quite interesting to try and piece together the puzzle ahead of the narrative – trying to figure out what set of events happened to each child (or to their families) and how it fits in with the larger plot.

This issue balanced out the backstory (flashbacks) perfectly with events in the present. Each transition was well-timed and left readers anxious to know more, but not ever crossing a line into becoming actively frustrating.

It was fascinating to see this story develop from all of these different angles. It certainly wasn’t something expected, but that just made the story all the more refreshing – even while we dreaded what would happen next.

Art

I love the art style behind Dead End Kids, but I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before. It has this feel to it – like it popped straight out of the late nineties. It’s perfect for this plot and setting, of course. But it also really did help set the tone.

Dead End Kids #2 had a lot of rapid transitions as part of the storytelling methods used here, yet it was always surprisingly easy to tell when a jump occurred. Part of this had to do with the art style and color palettes used, but the letterer should also get credit.

Nenad Cviticanin was the lead artist for this issue, as like the first one, and Sean Rinehart, the letterer. Criss Madd provided the striking (and somewhat alarming) cover. Together these artists brought the plot to life – capturing the tone and sensation of the series.

Conclusion

Dead End Kids #2 proved that the first issue was not a one-hit-wonder. It continued the tale that captivated readers while adding more complexity along the way. The twists and revelations in this issue made it anything but predictable, leaving us with a true mystery on our hands.

This was a dark and disturbing read on many levels, but it was also shockingly human. To be honest, that’s where this series really shines. And it’s why I know that I personally will continue reading this series even while I fear for what might happen during the next big reveal.

This review was originally written for Word of the Nerd, but has been ported over to Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks now that the site has shut down.

Review – Dead End Kids #1 (Sourcebook Press)

Introducing a Dark Murder Mystery in Dead End Kids #1

Dead End Kids is a new series from Sourcebook Press, and it is dark. In a good way, of course. The series is based in the late ’90s and follows a group of misfit children who need a break in life. Which, of course, means they aren’t going to get it, or there wouldn’t be much of a point in this series.

The series is advertised as a dark mystery, and after reading Dead End Kids #1, I can already tell just how accurate that description is. So get ready for an emotional roller coaster – one that I’m sure will be worth it.

Writing

I was surprised by how quickly Dead End Kids established the setting, characters, and core of the plot. It was actually quite impressive. And it left me eager to read the next issue – always a good sign.

Dead End Kids #1 starts off on a dark note. It starts right off the bat by telling us some of the worst that was to come before jumping to an earlier point in time. I personally enjoy this tactic because it allows a series to hit the ground running and then go back to build up the tension. Plus, I’m not ashamed to admit that I like the warning for heavier moments.

Frank Gogol did an excellent job of introducing us to and developing the four main characters. These four misfits are clearly vital to the story, and each one has a unique background. But because there was so much to be done, they really only had a page each to give us an idea of their past. Yet Gogol managed to do it perfectly.

As for the main plot, I’ll admit that I’m intrigued. Even knowing what was going to happen (well, some of it, at least), I was still surprised by the impact of it all. And the conclusion certainly left me looking for more. I’m going to be following this series for sure – I need to see how they get out of this one.

Art

I really enjoyed the art style behind Dead End Kids #1. Nenad Cvitcanin did all of the heavy liftings for this issue, providing the lines and coloring. It’s so easy to forget how unified a series can look when one artist is running the show.

I love the color palette, as well as the style in general. Even without being told that this series was set in the ’90s, I would have been able to tell from Cvitcanin’s art. The items, way of dress, and many other fine details are all clear indicators for the time period.

There were specific panels and pages that I loved in particular. The first significant panel just had so much impact on it. And it really set the tone for the rest of the issue. Other moments really caught my attention as well, but none quite like that.

Conclusion

Dead End Kids #1 was a brilliant start to a dark and mysterious new series. I adored what I saw here and honestly am looking forward to seeing more. This one issue did a fantastic job of introducing us to all of the essential elements of the series. And best of all, it left me looking for more.

I’m curious to see where this series leads in the long run. This issue set some expectations, but a lot of it was vague enough where I can see it going several different ways. Admittedly that went a long way in making me more invested in the series.

This review was originally written for Word of the Nerd, but has been ported over to Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks now that the site has shut down.

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