By Sam King
Dodge City #4 is the last issue in the current series published by Boom! Box. Some things wrap up rather nicely, while other threads are still left hanging. Other aspects that I wondered about were resolved in ways I found largely unsatisfying given how much time was spent mentioning them in past issues.
Dodge City #4 provides one last dodgeball match, which isn't as energetic or intense as the previous matches. It also raises a lot of questions about the team that are left unresolved. It appears that one of the members cheated in the last match, but it is not fully discussed by the team nor any officials by the time the issue ends. This contradicts the arc that the team was taking as they were known for cheating in the previous season and were trying to start fresh. It almost seems like a step backward. Also, the relationship turmoil between Elise and Drew is wrapped up, but we never really see them work things out or see them talk out what is really happening between them. Since this is an LGBTQ relationship that could show a lot of positivity when it comes to working out issues as a couple, this is hugely disappointing.
The other LGBTQ character, Huck, gets his personal arc resolved and that one is better, although I don't think Huck got enough panel time to really highlight what an interesting character he is. As he is not just an orientation minority, but also a disability character, this is also really disappointing to me. The main focus was on Tomas turning from wimpy guy who wants to be more involved in something, to a stronger team player willing to stand up for himself and his team. That was a great character arc, but the rest of the team needed more attention and work to make them shine collectively. The series failed to highlight them adequately or pull them into a team that seemed whole and not just like characters in a story.
I had pretty high hopes for this story, particularly since the cast was so diverse and the story was so unique compared to other American comics I've read. While it is fun, it missed a lot of its potential and lacks quite a bit of substance. I'm hoping the team comes back in the future for another season, but only if the creative team really pushes the story forward and does something more than what was already done.
Overall, I was really excited to read this comic series and loved that it tried something different than average comics, although I wish it had done more. While the space is limited, there was definitely room to push the story and characters further during discussions and matches. Some conversations weren't as necessary as I felt other focuses may have been at times during the series. Also, many of the "main" characters on the chosen team were not really around or developed enough to make the team feel like a cohesive unit worth cheering for by the end. The art was good and the story was fun, but it's just a light enjoyable read. It feels breezy and like a sports drama that middle school girls would really like. There are plenty of fun, cute pairings for them to ship. The main issue I had was the lack of full substance and development. I'd read it over again in full, but I wouldn't call it the next great American comic by any means. Dodge City would be good for light summer reading, although I'd like to see the writers come back and do more with new ideas and a willingness to push the envelope a bit more.
Dodge City #4