I doubt I was the first to be skeptical of Aspen’s first foray into all-ages comics aka Psycho Bonkers. After all it’s a company that consistently produces series starring gorgeous women. Then there was writer and Editor in Chief Vince Hernandez. To be frank, I’ve never been a big fan of his writing. To say I had my doubts about this series is a bit of an understatement. The thing you learn as a reviewer and really what everyone should learn as readers, is that you have to cast out expectations and doubts before reading a new series. Because you’ll never know what you’ll get until you experience it. Why ruin the experience before it begins?
With all that said, I had a wonderful time reading Psycho Bonkers #1. It’s definitely more inclined to appeal to children than adults which kind of skews that all-ages line a bit, but it reminded me of a Saturday morning cartoon with its story and art.
The gist of the world is that the top sport is Bonk racing. Each racer has a car with a living A.I./Fuel and they compete in rally car type races. Think Speed Racer with Mario Kart. Our main character Shine is a third generation racer and there’s quite the backstory about her Grandfather who is still considered the greatest of all time. Her father is viewed as being the man responsible for his death. Now Shine has set out to make her own legacy as a Bonk racer.
It’s a good read and while the bulk of it is made for kids there is the deeper story about the family. For me it’s pretty obvious what went down with the grandfather, but hey there could be some twists. At times it spends too much time establishing the back story, but it’s at least interesting and serves to make the world feel real.
The part that makes it feel like a Saturday morning cartoon is the artwork and the overall design of the comic. Shine’s A.I. can talk, but then it also puts on-screen animations of the danger they’re facing which adds a comedic effect to the event. Then there’s Shine’s robot repairman. You could say that he’s kind of like the monkey from Speed Racer, but actually useful and tolerable. He too adds to the comedy, but has a very different personality from Shine and her A.I. Overall the trio make a good team and their cartoonish designs caught my attention.
As for the world, the art creates a near future landscape. Nothing’s to far advanced and again it’s more in a cartoon way of holograms and cars having rounder features. But it does feel like the future which is important when your story takes place there. The Mario Kart aspect comes in when Shine crosses her first checkpoint and it really looks like video game racing check point. Overall the visuals were very strong, had a fantastic style and supported the narrative every step of the way.
I think Psycho Bonkers would be a great first comic for kids. The world is interesting and has plenty of elements for kids to get into: racing, futuristic cars, robots and talking A.I. Honestly I worry that the backstory might get in the way of just a fun story about racing, but it could add to it as well. I don’t know if I’ll review every issue going forward, but I was definitely charmed by this series enough to continue checking it out. Frankly, I wish more publishers would put together comics like Psycho Bonkers because it really is a great place for kids to start reading and enjoying comics and guess what? No super heroes which is important to show kids as well. Check it out for you or your kids.