After talking to Shaun Simon at New York Comic Con I became very interested in Neverboy, his and Tyler Jenkins latest series from Dark Horse Comics. The premise is fairly easy to sum up if you already have read or know anything about the book. To me though, that doesn’t really tell you anything other than giving you a hype line. I’ll still give you the hype line because that would be a dick move not to at this point, but I’m going to also tell you a bit about the issue. The story follows an imaginary character that’s found a way to stay in the real world and interact with people by taking drugs. I know, I know… you’re sold already. In fact let’s be honest for a second, who the fuck wouldn’t be sold already?
Neverboy #1 opens in a hospital with our title character filling out some medical paperwork or rather copying other people’s paperwork because he’s just killing time. There’s a great interaction between him and a little girl that I won’t spoil, but it gives a lot of insight into his world and mindset. Eventually he scores some drugs from a patient that comes in and he’s off.
Meanwhile we meet his wife… yes his wife. She’s walking home and a building gets a makeover out of nowhere. A man runs out calling for Mrs. Neverboy informing her that her order is ready. She obviously hasn’t ordered any food, but it adds a layer of mystery to the story. This is a great and subtle red flag for the reader which isn’t easy missed, but Simon makes sure to distract you by having Mrs. Neverboy (I don’t know what else to call her) see another mom from her son’s school and try to get her attention. She’s completely ignored though and wouldn’t you know it their son Ben goes through the same thing at school when the other kids accidently break his toy.
If you haven’t figured it out already I won’t be telling you what’s going on because it is part of the charm of the first issue. I’ll admit the story moves a little slow, but I think that it’s actually a methodical movement as it gets to the ending and we get more exposure to the world and why Neverboy stayed in the real world. It’s deep. It’s filled with emotion and instantly makes you feel for Neverboy’s situation. Let’s just say that he’s the first character you’ll want to take drugs.
There’s a story within the story and on its own it’s touching, but then Simon adds this great moment at the conclusion of it. What sells the moment though is the artwork from Jenkins. It’s actually really great to see Jenkins on something other than Peter Panzerfaust, because as good as that series is, it’s structured in the real world. Here Jenkins gets to go a little nuts and with the help of Kelly Fitzpatrick they do just that. I can’t say how, but trust me there’s a scene in which things get crazy and both Jenkins and Fitzpatrick get to shine.
Jenkins art is a great choice for this series because his style plays to both worlds. It’s gritty and packed-full of details making it realistic, but then also playful and exaggerated making the imaginary world feel just as real. The last thing I'll say about the art is... pay attention. There's a lot of visual cues to pick up on so look close.
I think I can spot what’s going to be an obvious complaint about this book and it’s going to be that not much happens. Which is half true as we really spend a lot of time getting to know our main character. But when the issue pops off, it really pops off and it’s only because of the way it’s structured that these big payoffs matter. That and if it all seems to work too easily it’s just because that’s how well constructed the story and world are. Simon does a tremendous job of world building for a first issue and I will be back for more.