Friday Fitzhugh is back home, but all that’s waiting to welcome her back is mystery. Your Major Spoilers review of Friday #1 from Panel Syndicate awaits.
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Marcos Martin & Muntsa Vicente
Publisher: Panel Syndicate
Cover Price: Name Your Price
Release Date: April 16th, 2020
Previously in Friday: Friday Fitzhugh spent her childhood solving crimes and digging up occult secrets with her best friend Lancelot Jones, the smartest boy in the world. But that was the past, now she’s in college, starting a new life on her own.
Friday #1 kicks off with the titular character tromping through some snowy woods, her friend Lancelot and a police chief with her. Along the way, Lancelot gives a history lesson about the town’s history involving human sacrifice. We then flashback to see Friday coming home on the train, desperately wanting to discuss something with her friend. When she arrives though, she’s immediately swept up to track down someone named Weasel Wadsworth who has stolen a ceremonial dagger. They manage to find him deep in the woods, carving something into a tree. He seems to be crazed and violent until Friday is able to put him down with a rock rolled in snow. They take Weasel to the hospital. Friday tries to bring up what she’s been wanting to talk about since she got to town but before she can, Lance is off again to follow up on the mystery.
A Strong and Sturdy Premise
It isn’t apparent right away, but by the midpoint of Friday #1 it’s pretty clear what Ed Brubaker is trying to do here. This is the story of when child detectives a la Encyclopedia Brown or The Hardy Boys grow up and are ready to put away the sleuthing. Throughout the issue it becomes clearer and clearer that while she’s excited while hunting down a mystery, Friday resents it as well. At times, some of the narration can be a little on the nose and while there’s plenty of mystery within the story, there’s little in terms of character motivation. It’s nice to see some of the hallmarks of those old YA novels pop in here, such as the alliterative names, cobbled together weapons, and completely complicit police. Brubaker does a good job here capturing the feel of those old stories while adding another layer on top.
A Perfect Fit
Marcos Martin and Marcus Vincente come together to give this comic a look that not only feels perfect for the story, but looks lovely as well. All the character work has a look that would feel right at home in an episode of some 60’s to 70’s cartoon about a team of teenage ghost hunters. It’s the colors though that elevate Friday #1. A real emphasis is given to light sources, with every street lamp or flashlight given a nice big bloom and a vibrant yellow color that pops compared to the mostly grey and blue colors of the background. It’s a neat look that gives this comic a lot of character.
Bottom Line: A Simple Yet Ambitious Take
At its heart Friday #1 is a book with a simple premise: What happens when a child detective grows up. But, it’s the little details and homages to YA mystery novels of the past, that make this feel special. This comic manages to feel like a love letter and deconstruction at the same time. Throw in some lovely art and this is a winner.
Friday #1 is a good opener to the series by clearly laying out it’s premise and goals right on the table, even at the risk of coming off as a bit heavy handed at times. And even if the mystery genre isn’t your thing, the book is nice to look at.