In the future, on another world, Jace Lopaz runs errands, of the illegal and sometimes dangerous variety. A lifelong scoundrel, he suddenly finds himself taking care of his half-brother, dodging the law, and just trying to make ends meet.
Writer: D. J. Kirkbride
Artist: Nikos Koutsis
Letterer: Frank Cvetkovic
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 3, 2018
In a wildly colorful future version of the world, dead-end jobs are dead-end jobs, relationships break off, teenagers are unfathomable, and family is family. Or family is weird. Or possibly both.
RIGHT IN THE THICK OF THINGS
Errand Boys #1 starts out in the middle of the action, which is just fine with a book like this. It can be entertaining to figure out what’s going on. In this case, we also have the help of an omniscient narrator. Jace Lopaz, our main character, is carrying a box and running. We learn right off the bat that he only runs when he’s being chased, and that being chased is a frequent experience. This actually tells us a lot about the “errands” he gets hired for, as well as setting the humorous tone. Two non-human guys (different kinds) with blasters intercept him, and Jace, at thirty, reflects briefly on his life choices so far before jumping out a window and landing in a pool. This pool is on top of a roof; more guys start chasing him; he leaps off the edge (with the narrator indicating this is not necessarily unusual for him), and lands on a vehicle piloted by, apparently, his ex-girlfriend Max (also not human).
So a few pages in, we are in a world populated by a huge variety of non-humans, all living together. Jace’s “errand” nets him less than full price, because landing in the pool did no good to the package. His ex thinks he’s an idiot. They go out to eat and she officially breaks it off with him. This is all well and good, but already we’re running into plot points that are familiar, and characters acting pretty much as we’ve come to expect.
Well, there’s no point in having a bad day if it doesn’t get worse, so next thing he knows, Jace is at Sentient Child Services. His half-brother Tawnk has just been orphaned and Jace is the only family he’s got. Tawnk is thirteen, and either Jace becomes his guardian, or he goes to foster care. Jace takes him in. Tawnk is a sensitive young man, half human, and he’s hurting. Jace is still bitter at his dad who wasn’t much a part of his life. Tawnk is apparently also a responsible kid – he asks about school. It costs too much, so Jace decides to just have him tag along as he tries to earn some money. And by tag along, not just to the office, but off to his next job.
They’re being sent to fetch an exotic creature from another planet. As it turns out, the kid already knows about the planet and something about the creature. We jump forward briefly to see that this errand also rapidly develops into a chase. The story closes, backtracking to boarding the ship, seeing Tawnk realizing he’s at a decision point in his life.
The narration does make some leaps for comedic and/or dramatic effect. This is why the omniscient narrator helps. It’s good storytelling to skip over connecting parts that don’t add much to the story, but sometimes that leaves you without enough connecting bits to tie the story together. The tone is certainly that of devil-may-care adventure. Our main character is a blend of stereotypes we’ve seen before. But there is a hint of some possible character development, and it may have the potential to go beyond the tropes.
LIVELY AND FUN TO LOOK AT
As befits a book that has a humorous tone, the art in Errand Boys #1 is vibrant and somewhat exaggerated for dramatic effect. There are a lot of things to like about the art. The ink lines are strong, and the art has great movement. The non-humans do tend to be bipedal with most of the variation being skin color and texture, facial shape, and things sticking out of the head. But they’re interesting and kind of fun. The backgrounds/scenery is futuristic and looks great. This is not a hard science book, but care has been taken to blend the familiar with the future and it does have a decent sense of place.
I like the depiction of Tawnk. Being half non-human, he is skinny and blue with feathery appendages sticking out of his head. But he does come across as a teenager who is feeling rather lost about now – too old to be a kid, too young to be all that close to adulthood. There’s a lot of pathos in him.
The final chase scene is a double splash that is absolutely vibrant. There is so much going on, and we don’t know exactly what. But it makes a nice bookend for the main story.
BOTTOM LINE: A CAREFREE ADVENTURE
If you like chase scenes in your stories, take a look at Errand Boys #1. So far it seems that Jace is more the talk-your-way-out or run kind of hero rather than someone who shoots everything in sight, and that is refreshing. It has some familiar tropes, but that’s not necessarily bad – we understand the story points. And it has some potential to really say something.