By Sam King
Last issue, the Jazz Panda dodge ball team saw the return of a former teammate and a lot of drama was stirring up. This time we get more game and less emotional strife, but we see the team having good chemistry and teamwork. It is another fun issue that pushes the pacing up at a point where some adrenaline was definitely needed.
In Dodge City #3, the Jazz Pandas are in a match that will determine whether their season continues or ends. It feels a little odd since it feels like we only just met the team, but I guess that must be how Tomas feels since he joined up towards the end of the season and not at the beginning. This just means that the stakes are raised exponentially from what they would have been had we actually started from the beginning. It makes for odd team building principles though. We have a ragtag team that is barely hitting its stride, and I'm waiting to see some major heart come out. There were some sparks of it this issue, but I definitely want more. I am a big fan of underdog stories, so I'm definitely rooting for the Jazz Pandas, but I want some more reasons why I should stay on their side.
Tomas, Huck, and Elsie are the most developed and enjoyable characters so far. Tomas is new and just wants to be a good captain, Huck doesn't seem to be communicating everything going on in his mind, and sometimes him being deaf kind of makes it hard to fully understand him within the story. He is very lovable though and it presents the same kinds of challenges you might have if you aren't used to talking to people who have other ways of communicating than you're familiar with. It's a new reading experience for me and I find myself going over the panels with him a few times so I can make sure to get the most meaning out of them as possible, instead of just taking generic emotional cues and pressing onward. Elsie is clearly struggling with trying to hold on to what she has left. She is fighting for the season to continue, but deep down we know she is fighting for her time with Drew to last longer. Elsie seems very emotionally attached in an open way, whereas Drew comes off as being very closed off and more focused on herself. She isn't conceited, she just seems to have a lot on her mind where her future and herself are concerned. That isn't inherently a bad thing, but it makes Elsie's struggle seem a bit sadder since it is a coin toss on if anything she does will have even a glimmer of effect on their relationship.
The game sequence in this issue is very fun and fast-paced. Balls are being thrown quickly, players are dodging as best they can, and it's really easy and fun to follow. The matches are my favorite parts of this series thus far since that is where things kick up the most. In subtle ways, the court is where the Jazz Panda players get their layers peeled back because we see what each one brings to the table, where they are hurting, and why they are fighting. We see them failing and working together in a way that only sports can bring out.
Dodge City #3 is progressing the story steadily while being more enjoyable than the last one due to the upped stakes. There are fewer flashbacks and relaxed dialogue, but there is still plenty of emotional tension and individual expression occurring. The art is still as bright and adorable as ever. It isn't groundbreaking, but it matches the tone and story very well. Hopefully, the next issue keeps the ante rising and the emotional tension balanced with some action because that is where the characters really shine and seem their most vulnerable, yet powerful.
Dodge City #3