Wednesday, May 21, 2014
YALSA top ten GNs 2014: Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Written by Prudence Shen. Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks.
Published by First Second (2013)
Sometimes I think that cheerleaders must be the most maligned group in fiction. I mean, I'm no expert in cheerleaders in fiction, but they generally seem to be portrayed as stuck up, exclusionary people that only care about looks and money.
But I guess I should explain what this comic is actually about. It begins with the high school robot club and the cheerleaders both wanting school money (the robot club wants new uniforms and the cheerleaders want to go to a robot competition, no wait...). However, there is only enough money for one of the groups (lets ignore that the cheerleaders want $4000 and the robot club only wants $1500), so the school decides that student council will decide who gets the money.
One of the robot club members decides to run for president, while his...friend (?) who is on the basketball team and used to go out with the head cheerleader gets signed up to run against him. Various dastardly election tricks are played by each side until the school decides that nobody gets the money. This part of the book was okay, but reading about high school politics didn't interest me that much.
The robot club decides to enter a robot fighting championship in order to get the money and go to their competition. However in order to do this they have to make their normal robot into a fighting robot, so they have to borrow $1500 from the cheerleaders with the promise that they'll pay for the uniforms with some of the prize money. (And if the cheerleaders have access to that much money why can't they just buy their own uniforms?) I found I enjoyed the comic considerably more after this point as, well, robot fights, but also because the characters' back stories and personalities were better fleshed out through various scenes and dialogue.
Perhaps surprisingly my favourite part of the comic came not from the robot fights, which were all pretty great, but from when the cheerleaders actually showed some compassion towards the only girl in the robot club. While "oh, they were nice all along" is _also_ a stereotype, it did make the characters seem slightly more believable and less one dimensional.
Actually, no, my favourite part of the comic was the art. Faith Erin Hicks seems to be everywhere these days (I mean, she had two books on the YALSA list in 2014!), and it has become obvious what a good artist she has become. Her ability to draw motion is really good (and thankfully so in a comic about robot fights), but I think where she really shines is in the expressions and body language of the characters she draws. She's great at allowing the reader to know how a character feels without them having to say anything at all.
Overall this was pretty okay, though that's clearly damning this book with faint praise. There were definitely parts that I enjoyed, but I also feel that you could cut out about a third of the book and made something that was more interesting (at least to me). Still, I'll gladly read more comics that Hicks drew, and I might check out another graphic novel written by Shen if the subject matter appealed to me more.