By Philip Schweier
August 9, 2017 - 04:05
So when DC chose to recognize Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday with a series of one-shots in his honor, Howard Chaykin created a new story in which the two gangs meet. It’s a wonder it took this long. Pairing them up seems so obvious, but considering they’ve been out of the public eye for almost half a century, perhaps it isn’t so surprising.
My biggest lament about the book is for an introductory page of some sort; something that would offer readers some background on the characters and overall concepts. This would have gone far to providing the audience with greater context.
Anyone who has read Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer knows that either book is a challenge, due in part to its dialogue written in the dialect of the Deep South. It has a rhythm and a syntax many find difficult to follow. They often give up part way through, but if you stick to it, and open your mind, it gets easier.
Such is the course in Newsboy Legion/Boy Commandos. One character hails from Brooklyn, while another speaks with a thick Cockney accent. And they are written as such. Unfortunately, the story isn’t quite long enough to master the lingo, and I struggled more than once. I’m not saying it was out of place, but perhaps it was laid on a little thick.
The artwork is classic Chaykin, but what makes the story sing in places is the coloring. Wil Quintana conveys the bright lights of Broadway, or the blackouts of Paris, with amazing effectiveness. His work also elevates Chaykin’s rendering, which despite for 30 year admiration for his work, is not always the best. Nevertheless, I wish for Chaykin and Quintana to do a book of Damon Runyon tales in comic book form.
There is also a vintage Newsboy Legion story from their heyday, drawn by Kirby himself. It offers younger readers a glimpse into the Golden age of the Newsboy Legion.