By Ben Snyder
The Family Trade #1 offers an interesting introduction to a "what if" world in which neutral country was founded in the middle of the ocean, was ruled by a nepotistic governing class which was controlled by a secret society of assassins. It’s all relatively lofty and idealistic, and it succeeds most of the time in setting up a fun, and politically charged story arc told through the perspective of a chipper young assassin, however some story aspects can come across as incredibly heavy handed and the art, while not entirely bad, isn’t as impressive as the story.
In our increasingly political times, I am extremely happy and excited that more of our comics are reflecting our political climate. Family Trade is one of these comics, especially as the central antagonist in this issue bears an extremely uncanny resemblance to our current commander-in-chief Donald Trump. Before I even begin this review, the sheer nature of the heavy-handedness in which writers Justin Jordan and Nikki Ryan approach this comparison will turn off some readers. Not only does Berghardt resemble Trump physically but the rally that is depicted feature familiar fascist chants of “Make the Float Glorious Again” and similar speeches about how the immigrants and incapable freeload off of the working class.
One of the main letdowns of the initial issue of this series is the lack of information we have on the main character. It’s truly awesome that a young woman of color is a core member of a group of assassins whose main goal is to keep political parties in check. It’s a fascinating power shift in what is actually happening in our world, and I’d love to see this dynamic play out more in the story, even if it’s only a slight wink at our actual world. And for this, I’m really let down as I feel this issue could have had a field day with this seeing as Jordan and Ryan go to remarkable lengths imitating the president. But they don’t really focus on the main protagonist, Jessa, at all in this issue, which I hope, changes in the future as Jessa has the potential to be an incredibly vital hero right now.
The side characters are also interesting, especially the cat-fanatic Bookmaker who is the central source of information for The Family. Head of Berghardt’s security Mikkaelsen also holds interesting potential as he instills more fear into his security detail then Berghardt himself does. Hopefully, Mikkaelsen’s ruthlessness will be explored more in the future.
I don’t really believe that artist Morgan Beem is the best choice for this story so far. It seems that her cartoonish, exaggerated style doesn’t really fit into the story Jordan and Ryan are attempting to tell. It also seems to differ tonally, making the story seem kid-friendly- the art looks like it was ripped from a children’s book. But I don’t mean that as an insult. I loved the rosy cherub cheeks of Berghardt and the amorphous curly locks of Jessa, but they seem out of place on the Float. Perhaps this will change as the story finds a sturdier footing to stand on. But as of now, the art was more of a distraction to the story than an addition.
The Family Trade #1 offers a lot of potential in its political commentary and interesting world, however the lack of exposition towards the Jessa and the out of place art ultimately sink this issue from true greatness.
The Family Trade #1