MISFIT CITY #1 by Kiwi Smith and Naomi Franquiz
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
MISFIT CITY #1 establishes the town of Cannon Cove and its inhabitants easily without relying on nostalgic tropes.
95 %
Fun and colorful

“Kids going on adventures” is certainly not a new pop culture theme. I’m a huge fan of the genre myself, but it’s apparent that it’s written with mostly young boys in mind. A group of young boys (usually white and straight) sets out to find hidden treasure or solve some mystery. If a girl is part of the gang, she’s usually a liability or incompetent in comparison to her male friends. Either that or she’s the one everyone crushes on and reduces to a fantasy. From STAND BY ME to SUPER 8, adolescent and teenage girls don’t get much adventure of their own. Even the recent STRANGER THINGS at times has a problem with romanticizing its extremely powerful female lead, Eleven. I know it’s the ’80s, but why does she need a blonde wig and pink dress to go out in public?

Luckily, I’m not the only one who’s sick of the adventure genre’s wasted potential. Kiwi Smith, writer of LEGALLY BLONDE and 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, set out to remedy this outdated trope with MISFIT CITY #1.

THE GOONIES meets SCOOBY-DOO in MISFIT CITY #1

The story follows a group of friends whose hometown is the setting of a beloved adventure classic, THE GLOOMIES. Obviously a nod at THE GOONIES, the film has made the town a target for obnoxious film buffs and road-trippers. For the citizens of Cannon Cove, the tourism bolsters the local economy but growing up there definitely isn’t what THE GLOOMIES makes it out to be.

MISFIT CITY #1
Image courtesy of Boom! Studios

Wilder and the gang are stuck playing cards and questioning their lives weekly when a sea captain (and parrot-owner) passes away and leaves a trunk in the town film museum’s care. The friends aren’t the only ones curious about the chest’s contents. And these mysterious competitors aren’t afraid to knock out a few people to get to it.

Diverse and Discernible Style

As a visually-oriented person, art quality means a lot to me when I’m reading a comic. MISFIT CITY instantly pulled me in the second I saw the cover. Illustrator Naomi Franquiz’ sketchy and bold lines pop against colorist Brittany Peer’s contrasting and expertly-chosen hues.

misfit city
Image courtesy of Boom! Studios

The architecture and backgrounds are also beautiful and intricate without going overboard. The buildings, such as the museum, tell a lot about the town’s geography and history. Backgrounds are mostly monotone so the foreground isn’t overwhelming. The balance is nice, but it also gives readers a chance to explore each panel.

READ: Check out another small beachfront town in STEVEN UNIVERSE #3!

As for character design, sometimes creators forget that girls have different faces and body types. In MISFIT CITY #1, the characters are easy to tell apart and instantly have their own personalities. Fashion also plays into characterization. Macy’s bright blue hair and combat boots contrast with Wilder’s hoodies and t-shirts. It’s awesome to see a group of different girls in media that don’t try to represent themselves as exactly the same.

Avoiding Copy-and-Paste Nostalgia

It’s so easy to fall into certain conventions of a genre without giving the story its own flair. I could tell MISFIT CITY #1 was completely aware of what it was riffing on, but not to an eye-rolling degree. I definitely wouldn’t call it satire, as it’s only using the idea of the ’80s kid adventure genre as a starting point. MISFIT CITY doesn’t mock the genre itself, but rather the attitudes people have towards them. In this case, THE GLOOMIES fans are completely dismissive of the town’s history and more interested in checking the filming location off their list.

READ: Need more from Boom! Studios? Get the scoop on GODSHAPER #1!

The genre is popular for a reason. It reminds people of what it’s like to be a kid, devoid of responsibilities like jobs and taxes. It’s rare to see young girls in adventure genres outside of chapter books, but even rarer still to see teenage girls in these situations. Because apparently after you turn thirteen you lose all interest in anything fun and odd. Girls are allowed to be “tomboys” until it’s time for them to grow up and become whatever society deems women should be (usually feminine and proper wives and mothers). Heroines in Disney movies usually fall into this trap. They start out wanting so much more than just marrying a subpar dude. Apparently you can’t have ambitions and a relationship.

And This is Just the Beginning

MISFIT CITY #1 is a great start to the series, and I have high hopes. We already know most of the main characters and some interesting minor characters. The art is solid and the humor isn’t forced at all. There aren’t any awkward fourth-wall breaking moments that critique the adventure genre every two panels. MISFIT CITY will definitely be on my radar and hopefully it will inspire others to expand the adventure realm. It’s about time somebody addressed the gender gap in one of the most-loved genres of all time.

 

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