Written by: Matthew Rosenberg
Art by: Tyler Boss
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
I was really surprised by the debut issue of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, it was a refreshingly inventive and, most importantly, funny comic with a cynical sense of humour than managed to be refreshingly honest and blunt in its portrayal of childhood struggles. Amazingly, the second installment manages to be even stronger, cementing itself as one of the best comics I’ve read all year.
With the introductions handled in the first issue, the newest installment focuses on developing our main plot of lead character Paige’s dad’s dealings with suspicious criminals, while pumping out top quality jokes at an even faster rate. There are a few similar beats the comic hits, such as the videogame opening, but throughout Boss employs an art style so dynamic and varied that everything feels as new and creative as the previous issue. There are a ton of inventive layouts that keep the story moving at a quick pace, and a lot of cool visual cues that keep things laugh out loud funny without beating you over the head with the punchline. A simple sight gag such as Walter the shy kid wearing a hockey mask instead of a bicycle helmet is absolutely hilarious while telling you everything you need to know about his character. It’s brilliant stuff like this that makes this comic genuinely funny due to it’s subtly and ability to tell varied jokes.
The plot also gets a lot more meaty this issue, with the kids interacting a lot more and the main plotline become more fleshed out as the characters reveal themselves. Weirdly though, the ongoing story may be my least favourite thing about the book. That’s not to say Rosenberg turns in a bad script or anything, but instead that he’s so strong at nailing the “slice of life” quality to the book of authentic child voices, that any serious plotline almost feels disingenuous to the books really quality and charm. The book does end though with a pretty huge event which seems to change the entire nature of the plot, so I’m anxious to see how the remaining issues manage to raise the stakes higher while maintaining the grounded quality that makes the book feel so enjoyable.
When it comes down to it though, 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank comes packed with so many well crafted jokes and authentically real character that it’s hard not to get sucked into its charming if cynical world. It never takes itself too seriously, usually punctuating hugely dramatic moments with a well earned zinger, while having enough heart to make it worth your time and money. The book just really is that good and demands your attention. If you can track down a copy, definitely give the issues a shot, it’s as enjoyable as a feel good kids movie with the good feelings replaced with a healthy dose of cynicism and reality.