Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, YA
Publisher: BOOM! Studios on September 21, 2016
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
Earth sucks. View Spoiler »
Earth is a terrible place to live when you’ve been marked as an aberrant, someone who refuses to conform to the standards of behaviour, dress, and thought set forth by the shadowy fascist regime that controls the planet. Few teenagers know that better than Uma Akkolyte, a fugitive who’s been living off the grid ever since her parents were killed. She’s been moving from place to place, just biding her time until the stars align and she can finally put her plans in motion: escaping earth for life amongst the stars. Because when earth sucks, what’s a girl to do? Grab your friends and reluctant allies, and get the hell out of dodge.
JOYRIDE VOL. 1 introduces a cast of young, likeable characters who come from disparate backgrounds but are united by a common goal: freedom. Freedom from political persecution, tough moral choices, parental expectations, and more. Of course, as time goes by, Uma, her best pal Dewyddin, and their reluctant ally Catrin will learn that just because you’ve escaped earth doesn’t mean you’ve escaped your problems. Bummer.
While I liked these characters overall, I have to admit that they’re all pretty archetypical and their various backstories were easily predictable from the first few pages. Uma in particular was quite frustrating for me, as her “let’s do cool space stuff” attitude veered away from charming and more towards irritating several times. The real scene-stealer is Bot, an ant-like robot who’s inability to verbally communicate with the rest of the group doesn’t stop him from connecting with everyone. In between fixing the spaceship’s engine and leading daring rescue missions, Bot always has a little extra time to join the rest of the gang for a good old fashioned dance party. Despite the occasionally quite dark subject matter, JOYRIDE VOL. 1 remains relatively lighthearted and hopeful, which I’ve always though of as the hallmark of BOOM! Studios comics.
There’s a lot of potential here for strong world building, as the gang steer their stolen spacecraft into all sorts of danger and encounter all manner of alien life forms. JOYRIDE VOL. 1 barely scratches the surface of this world, but I expect we’ll see more of it in the second volume now that all the major players have been introduced and their respective story lines established. Those of you who are bothered by trite dialogue and cliche character motivations (dead parents, evil father, etc.) may want to steer clear, but personally I didn’t find myself too bothered by it.
The art style is a refreshing change of pace for this publisher, as many BOOM! titles have a signature “cutesy” style that wouldn’t work for this world. Kniivla and To do an excellent job with the character’s micro-expressions, and there are a number of panels where Uma and Catrin say a lot with just a look. Let’s just say that there are plenty of eyebrow raises and small smirks to go around.
In the end, JOYRIDE VOL. 1 is exactly what it says it is: a fun, intergalactic space romp about a bunch of young people who just want their first taste of freedom. Sticking it to the man? That’s a welcome bonus.