By Sam King
Heavy Vinyl takes girl power, sets it in the 90's and makes a record store into a kind of vigilante headquarters. While it is not incredible at presenting a complete story by the end of the collected four issues, it excels at being cute and having a diverse cast. The diversity in the almost all girl cast pretty much just means a handful of girls with their own personalities and individual lifestyles. It is fun, but it won’t work your brain or make you believe the story can stand on its own at this point.
Heavy Vinyl is the predominantly the story of Chris, a Sapphic character who is the newest employee at Vinyl Destination, a record shop. The story is set in the 1990s and some of the clothing styles reflect this, such as Chris’s staple turned back cap and the presence of a record shop that isn’t a college or indie scene hidden gem trying to bring back vintage materials. It is a genuine record store and there are no cell phones anywhere to be seen. The main thing that the time period does is provide a reason for the existence of the record shop and a connection to artists making their own music in ways that are not exactly the same as they would be today. Each girl is very distinct in personality, so that is a plus. I enjoyed the characters and thought they were decently developed compared to the overall plot.
Chris is often dismissed before everyone else and wonders if the other girls are hiding something from her. We find out very quickly that they are. A singer of Chris’s favorite band is missing and the girls reveal that they are a fight club. The basic plot is that they are trying to find out where the lead singer could possibly be since they believe she could be in serious trouble. While trying to figure this out they begin to uncover a bigger plot that is not fully realized or rolling along by the time issue #4 comes to a close.
Heavy Vinyl was originally called “Hi-Fi Fight Club”, but before the release of issue #4, the series was retitled “Heavy Vinyl” and this is what the collected volume has been released as. It was said by Boom Studios that the title change allowed for broader options, but what that means has yet to be announced. Regardless of the title, it doesn’t change that the series is nothing but cutely presented mediocrity.
While I did enjoy the volume, I just had too many issues with the pacing and predictability. “There is something suspicious about the way the guys in this band are talking.” I could’ve told you that and I instantly had an idea of why, but it was so glaringly obvious that the reveal was really nothing unexpected. Even once the big secret is revealed and the main mystery is “solved”, nothing actually feels resolved apart from the cute relationship that you could tell the writers wanted to have happen from the beginning. Like I said, predictable. I liked the characters in general and I thought the concept was interesting, but there was no way this series was going to satisfy me with the way it failed to be a truly engaging story.
Heavy Vinyl is not the worst comic series you could read. The art is nice and cute, with pleasant shades of color. It is crisp, clean, and even the style feels softly feminine with a tinge of edge here and again. Is it groundbreaking art? No, but again, it is cute and satisfying enough. The story needs some work and tightening up to really get a feeling of suspense going. Would I read it again? Sure. If I wanted something cute and light. Will it be a masterpiece as the years go by that everyone just HAS to read? No way. If you’re interested and you want something light that leaves the door open for potentially more issues to come (despite there being no announcements of this thus far), then this will get the job done. It is cute, it is girly but with edge, and it lets you pass the time happily enough.