Nat Rodrigues dreams of a tropical island and has a strange tattoo no one else seems to be able to see. What happens when she finds five other young people this has happened too? Find out in Relics of Youth #1 from Vault Comics.
Writer: Matt Nicholas and Chad Rebmann
Artist: Skylar Patridge
Colorist: Vlad Popov
Publisher: Vault Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 25, 2019
Previously in Relics of Youth: Nat Rodrigues keeps dreaming of an island, so much so that it becomes an obsession. She soon finds out that she is not the only one. And then, one day, they all wake up with a tattoo that only they can see. What can it mean?
AN OBSESSION BECOMES A REALITY
Relics of Youth #1 opens with Nat Rodrigues narrating, introducing us to the other characters, hinting of what they have in common, which is mainly something about an island, and an odd tattoo. Derek is apparently finishing up a course of chemo. Mia is an actress with a stage mom and a history of being a child star. Tristan is a pianist, perhaps even a child prodigy, and her father is a perfectionist. Garret is full of confidence and attitude, born into a very wealthy family. Blake is a military man from a family with a long history in the military. And Nat herself is a programmer and amateur investigator who has lost her mom and now this island consumes her energies.
The flavor at the start is reminiscent of Close Encounters – young people who don’t know each other to begin with, who are drawn together by their shared vision of a particular place and the driving force of Nat, who arranges to bring them together. I am happy to report that they are a diverse group.
Thanks to Garret and his money, he foots the bill to bring them all to Miami where his family has a house on the water. Nat talks to them about the island, and some of the others confirm that they’ve been having dreams of it too, and hearing voices, and being chased. Nat wants to find the island. Of all of them, Mia is the one simply finds this all too weird. But when Nat steps close to the window overlooking the ocean, all their tattoos start to glow. They even move, and Nat explains that she thinks they might act as a sort of compass.
Garret looks at the direction it seems to be pointing, which is the Bermuda Triangle. This is the one part of the story that, to me, feels a bit passé, but it makes a nice connection with triangle tattoos, and people know the Bermuda Triangle as a supposed mystery area. And hey, Garret also has the family yacht at his disposal, and it’s not that long a trip. It starts out with fun in the sun; then there’s a storm; then there’s a huge bank of fog. When it breaks, their tattoos all start glowing.
Now the story feels a little bit like Lost. They’ve landed on a beautiful, apparently uninhabited, tropical island. Blake and Tristan discuss that some of their dreams are more like nightmares. Beyond the pristine beaches and lush forests, they find a gray and dead looking valley. They find the wreck of one of Ponce de Leon’s ships. And Nat is drawn away by a spirit to the site of an old village where she finds out this island is a home to some magical relics, and she and her friends must protect them. It’s a classic outline for a fantasy tale.
And then we do get an interesting complication. When the spirit talks with Nat, this opens the island to the rest of the world. No sooner does this happen, but two other ships arrive. Armed men and a woman with a sword kill the crew, search the yacht, blow up the yacht, and prepare for landfall.
YOUNG PEOPLE ON A QUEST
The art of Relics of Youth #1 is solid. The main characters are distinct in body language as well as physical appearance. Crucial scenes from their lives are pulled to help give us a sense of who they are and what baggage they have. Good care is taken with the details of where they come from that we fill in who we think they are. And they’re consistent. If anyone is going to be dramatic and overwrought, it’s Mia. If anyone is going to be cocky and overconfident, it’s Garret.
I love the full-page panel when they reach the island, especially since it comes after the panels of storm and fog. It’s everything you hope for in a tropical mystery island. And after a few pages of really pretty scenery, the weird sets in. Finding a shipwreck on high ground is strange enough. The village has long since been overgrown, but among the roots and vines we see the wreckage of a plane. The colors shift too, into a range that feels cooler and more spooky.
BOTTOM LINE: OFF TO AN EXCITING START
Relics of Youth #1 pulls on some familiar tropes to set up the story of an unlikely set of protectors. We know they have their own problems they will probably have to overcome, but already the stakes are set high. It’s a little wordy and a little confusing – two reads are better than one – but I think it looks pretty promising.
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Relics of Youth #1
What starts out as a weekend jaunt to see if they can find a mysterious island turns into a mystical quest for six young people.