Graphic Novel Review: Joyride (vol.1)

Synopsis:

Earth sucks. Steal a spaceship.

Earth sucks. The stars have been blocked out for so long that people have forgotten there was anything else besides the World Government Alliance watching over them. Uma Akkolyte is a girl who shoots first, leaps before she looks, and is desperate for any means to leave her planet behind. And so she does. When Uma jacks an alien spaceship and punches through the stratosphere she sets forth on an adventure with an unlikely crew who are totally not ready for all the good, bad, and weird the universe will throw at them.

From writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly (Batman and Robin Eternal, Grayson) and artist Marcus To (Nightwing, New Avengers), Joyride is a rebellious love letter to the sci-fi genre, exploring what happens when nothing stands between a group of teens and their freedom amongst the stars.

First Thought:

I was at a comic book store last weekend killing some time when I found Joyride. It looked like a fun little space adventure story and I wanted a little change in pace.

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

The art is fantastic…the story not so much.

I had no expectations going into this comic but I still felt disappointed. First off, I hate it when people throw around words/names like “Nazis”, “Hitler”, and “fascist” for no real reason. I hate it; I absolutely hate it with a burning passion because it desensitizes people to the meaning of those words and it weakens those words altogether. It’s fine if someone deserves those insults thrown at them, but in the case of Joyride they’re just thrown around like cheap liquor after payday−and it was beyond annoying, to the point of being aggravating. I don’t mean to preach and I understand the real significance to those words. I hear them used every day to the point where my brain just automatically tunes them out, which is devastating, and that’s why it aggravated me that they were used so meaninglessly in this volume. This is supposed to be in our future, why are our successors still using those terms?

In fact, why does Earth suck so much? The writers barely get into why the characters want to leave. Well Earth sucks and you can’t see the stars…aaannnd? Nothing, that’s it. The main character, Uma, keeps calling Earth fascist, but there aren’t any clear examples to back her up on that. There’s hardly any background at all in this volume, which can make readers more curious or it can make them more lost than they already are. There’s not even an outline of the current setup of Earth, there’s nothing on any governments or status, just veiled terms they throw around without explaining. There’s one incident that gets barely mentioned, but it’s so vague as to what happens that I couldn’t feel the same level of emotion as the other characters, which really takes you out of a story! I don’t want entire pages full of text boxes full of backstory and history, but seriously give me some reason to believe why Earth sucks so much other than being xenophobic, but for aliens.

Usually, stories have some sort of plot driving them or each issue is a story within itself with a start and a finish. Joyride has neither a coherent driving plotline, other than Uma wants to be anywhere but Earth, and each chapter isn’t a story within itself. The only plotline is that Uma wants to explore the galaxy while some of her companions are being chased by another character to be brought back to Earth. Why? No one knows! Why does Uma want to travel through space? Because Earth sucks. Does she have a plan/destination in mind? No. Is she smart about her space travelling? No, actually she has no care for herself or her companions. Is there anything that is driving her other than immature curiosity? Nope, she just wants to see everything just because. There’s no rhyme or reason, just wild adrenaline filled curiosity fit for a teenager but it gets old after a while.

Speaking of Uma, I actually really hate her character. At first I thought she was a pretty cool rebel girl, but as the story went that’s as far as she went. She’s a rebel with no cause, no rally cry. She’s stupidly dangerous and has little to no concern for her friends. She’s apparently smart enough to make contact with aliens, even though Earth made it impossible, and has a lot of “street smart” dealing with cops all her life yet she can’t keep herself out of trouble. She’s reckless, explosive, and self-centered and currently has no redeeming qualities to me. For how much I dislike her character, I love the others in Joyride. I think Dewydd is my favorite because he feels the most natural and realistic to me. His reason for leaving was because he was done heling Luna kill people and he just wanted to be free, and because he might have a huge crush on Uma (poor guy). Catrin is alright, though her motivations are unclear and they seemed to change at the drop of a hat. All the supporting characters are really cool and interesting, and honestly I wish I got more of them or at least Dewydd than I did of Uma.

Ratings:

Art: 5

I really enjoyed the artwork in Joyride! The character and alien designs were amazing and well balanced between simple and intricate. I’m a stickler for clothing, oddly enough, and the detailing on the clothes was just perfect. There were enough creases and folds to give suggestions of movement or stretching without looking over done and drawing the eye away from the rest of the panel. The coloring was fantastic and possibly my favorite part of the comic. Kniivila did a wonderful job using both light and dark colors to bring life and emotion to the pages. I loved it when she used both lights and darks together, it really added to the panels, making them more serious and dramatic. Overall, fantastic art and coloring that made this comic very pleasing to look at−even if the story was less than stellar.

Story: 2

I felt like the story crafting in this volume was just lazy. The writers just throw their readers into this futuristic story, saying it’s terrible without giving real reason for it except that our main characters say so. I hate stories that don’t spend the time making readers believe, or at least understand, what the main characters do. Most of the characters have no clear motivations for their actions. Honestly, they felt like teenagers who were written by writers who can’t remember what it was like to be a young adult, let alone a teenager! The space adventuring seemed cool enough. I always love weird space exploring, but it felt too random like it was space weirdness for the sake of space weirdness. I thought this story might have been a collection of isolated space adventures, but instead it read like it should’ve had an overarching plot, except it’s so overarching that it got lost in space before it could come back down. And don’t get me start on the science. This is not a science fiction, it’s a space opera because the laws of science went right out the airlock before the first chapter even ended. You cannot, I repeat, cannot survive in space without oxygen for longer than a handful of seconds before dying. You can definitely not speak in open space without an oxygen mask, it’s impossible even if you wouldn’t die from trying!

Overall: 3.5

Even though this story was extremely flawed, I think I’m still going to give the next chapter a try to see if there’s any sort of character growth and to see where the characters I do like go. I really hope that the writing improves, but I really doubt it. This isn’t a sci-fi adventure that I’d recommend to too many people, especially those who really like science fiction, though I would recommend this to those who like crazy space operas.

Details:

Title: Joyride

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-4

Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Creator(s): Marcus To, Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly

Writer(s): Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly

Illustrator: Marcus To

Colors: Irma Kniivila

Letters: Jim Campbell

Released Date: September 27th, 2016

Pages: 112

Genre(s): Space Opera, Young Adult, Action/Adventure

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