THE AVANT-GUARDS #1 by Carly Usdin, Noah Hayes, Rebecca Nalty, and Ed Dukeshire
BOOM! Studios' latest sports comic THE AVANT-GUARDS #1 delivers drama, charm, and wit to the basketball court. Carly Usdin's brilliant girl-gang recipe delivers exciting plays with an assist from Noah Hayes' delightful artwork.
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No Fouls!

In pop culture, jocks and nerds don’t mix. It’s the classic brain vs. brawn trope. However, this week BOOM! Studios breaks from cliche with a delightful new series that unites comics nerds and sports fans. Carly Usdin (HEAVY VINYL) and Noah Hayes (GOLDIE VANCE) team up to bring us the underdog basketball comic THE AVANT-GUARDS. Hayes’ bright character design provides the lighthearted energy Usdin needs for a comic slam dunk.

Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

When Worlds Collide: Arts and Sports

Usdin’s series kicks off with an exciting first issue. THE AVANT-GUARDS #1 introduces readers to the ragtag basketball team at the Georgia O’Keefe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics. An odd setting for a sports team, the O’Keefe College doesn’t have room for sports, at least not until precocious Olivia Bates decides to start a team. Her only problem: she needs one more player to make a team. Luckily, a new transfer student named Charlene “Charlie” Bravo might be the solution. However, Charlie is a loner, and Olivia and her friends have to work hard to recruit their new classmate.

Setting a sports story in an art school adds humor to the already great mix of characters. The comic assures readers that there is room to enjoy the art of sport as well as the sport of art. Even the series title, the “Avant-Guards,” plays with the idea of what it means to be cutting edge in both arenas. Moreover, as sports comics such as FENCE and CHECK, PLEASE! gain popularity, it feels only fair that a team of young women like that of HEAVY VINYL, MISFIT CITY, and LUMBERJANES makes it onto the court and comics page.

Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.


Usdin’s writing focuses on interpersonal dynamics. Charlie is immediately recognizable as the social misfit with a heart of gold. Olivia’s overwhelming excitement for the world instantly makes readers want to sign up for the team. However, what makes THE AVANT-GUARDS #1 shine is Hayes’ charming illustrations. The wide-eyed faces of O’Keefe College’s students adds to the environment of very invested drama students. In a particularly funny moment, Charlie walks through the tables at the student activities fair to see Dungeons & Dragons clubs, a ukulele-playing Glee club, and more. Nothing seems right until she lands on the Avant-Guards.

The basketball team is diverse in just about every way possible, but most notably size. One player, Jay, stands heads above Charlie and practically towers over the petite Olivia. Indeed, all the players have unique look. For instance, there’s Tiffany, a witchy young woman dressed to fit her more occult interests. Ultimately, THE AVANT-GUARDS #1 hints at what is sure to be an interesting cast of characters. The comic builds a satisfying universe in which unique individuals can unite in a common cause.

Another key player in THE AVANT-GUARDS #1’s creative team is colorist Rebecca Nalty. With strong purples, pinks, and greens, Nalty brings a pop of lighthearted fun to the story. Combined with Hayes’ illustrations, the colors make any fan ready to go cheer.

Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Playbook for Fun!

Usdin knows how to keep the energy going. THE AVANT-GUARDS doesn’t answer every question. Readers will be left craving more info about Olivia, as well as about Charlie’s mysterious past. Drama could unfold in many possible ways – which is only appropriate for a comic about a drama school sports team! Hopefully, Usdin will continue to build the relationships between her characters. Ultimately, however, THE AVANT-GUARDS #1 primes readers for what is sure to be a fun and exciting series.

You can find THE AVANT-GUARDS #1 here or at your local comic book store, starting January 23rd, 2019.

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