By Dustin Cabeal
Well, I’ll say this about Night Owl Society, it’s extremely different from the vast majority of titles that IDW publishes. It also seems like their stab at getting their own Breakfast Club-esc story that’s primed and ready for the CW. Also, just because it’s different from what they usually publish, doesn’t mean it’s instantly better.
Night Owl Society is about a group of teens that come together to take down the criminals that killed a Priest. It starts with one kid, who attempts to break into the criminal’s warehouse and almost gets shot. Deciding he needs to put on muscle he decides to work out during a time in which he’s sure to get beat up and instead ends up recruiting a football player to his cause. Then they recruit two more kids, and the running gag of no one remembers the main kid even though he has classes with all of them continues throughout the issue.
The story also introduces the criminal in question. He’s introduced to us as he has a “meeting” with someone that was skimming off the top. Dude ends up dead which should be a surprise since the entire scene is to establish how ruthless he is and the nuances of his character.
The premise is nothing new, including the twist at the end which I saw coming a mile away. But hey, nothing is that new or different and so it comes down to the characters and the journey. I know that it seems like all teenagers talk the same and whatnot, but that’s the kiss of death in comics. All of these kids talk exactly the same with the football player being the only different and because he’s just too excited about being a “superhero.” Everyone else is a smart mark, and it gets annoying, especially when the main character sets them up for jokes.
Currently, the series isn’t gritty, there’s no harsh sense of reality to it, but it seems fairly obvious that that’s coming. At some point, the other kids will figure out the twist (the cover to the second issue suggests that it happens next) and maybe one of these characters will die bringing a grim sense of reality crashing down on the series… or maybe not.
It’s hard to tell how serious we should take this book. No one talks with passion about avenging this priest’s life, they’re just like, yeah that dude… he died. Even the main kid doesn’t have passion about avenging the death. He’s more angry about the twist than anything else. If the book dives into the psychology behind that, it might be good. It’s showing no signs of that currently though. Also, I’m not sure how to take the jokes. When you pair them with the serious aspect of the story, it seems out of place and awkward to the overall story, but maybe the second issue will help with the tone.
The artwork is interesting for a few reasons. It’s very gritty and loose but looks great because of that. It’s detailed when it wants to be, meaning background characters are faceless outlines. The coloring is the real head-scratcher as it is heavily stylized. There’s plenty of spots and places that are left white giving it a marker look or something similar to what Saga does, but done completely differently. It’s a great look and something I would love to see more of in the medium. The only downside is that the coloring is flat very earth tone.
Overall, it’s an okay story. It didn’t blow me away, but it was an entertaining read for the most part. If the characters were well-rounded, it might have helped distract from the predictable ending. The journey is okay, but when you have a well-worn formula, you need the journey to be the important part, not the twist that you can figure out from the cover and first five pages.
Night Owl Society #1
From IDW Publishing