In Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job #1, Amna, Des and Esposito wrestle with their personal demons that find their cause in the 9/11 attacks. Before the day is out, they will cross paths and discover a bag that will change their lives. What’s in the bag? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers reviews!
DEAD END KIDS: THE SUBURBAN JOB #1
Writer: Frank Gogol
Artist: Nenad Cviticanin
Colorist: Nenad Cviticanin
Letterer: Sean Rinehart
Editor: Travis McIntire
Publisher: Source Point Press
Release Date: January 27th, 2021
In Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job, the September 11th attacks loom over this opening issue, with three teenagers coming to terms with the changes in their lives, and the echoes of that shattering event all around them.
I distinctly remember where I was when news of 9/11 reached me. Our local news channel broke in just at the end of an episode of The West Wing, announcing that an airplane had crashed into a building in New York. Three hours later, and I went to bed wondering if everything had changed in the world.
Turned out, those attacks were a moment in time, changing everything for some in the direct line of attack, and nothing for those who were passive watchers. But the event continues to echo down to today, shaping our lives in ways great and small.
So it is for the three troubled teens we encounter in Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job #1. With a framing device of local criminals desperately searching for a stolen bag of money, Des, Amna and Esposito come together in ways they could never have anticipated, with the issue’s cliffhanger pointing to future conflict, and dare I say it, pain?
No one is happy in this issue – Esposito is clearly driven by the deaths of family close to him related to the 2001 attacks. Amna faces racism, based on her ethnicity and local reaction to the monsters who caused the attacks. Victoria appears to be listening over and over to a final message left on her phone, indicating her father was on a fire truck that headed straight into the cataclysm to save lives, and never came home. In depicting this trio, writer Frank Gogol isn’t ever heavy handed. You see more than you ‘hear’ – Esposito appears to be training to join the military, Amna sits by her injured brother in hospital, and Victoria’s contemplation of a razor blade, and the scars on her arm, indicate the depths of her psychological pain.
It used to be that fiction based around the 9/11 attacks was frowned upon. Too soon, many people said. But even at the outset, the reality was being edited. I remember seeing images of people leaping to their deaths on that awful morning, faced with an impossible choice as the buildings burned around them. Coverage of those deaths was eliminated pretty quickly, and unless you’ve seen the 2006 documentary The Falling Man, you probably have never seen any discussion about it since.
Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job #1 uses the 9/11 attacks as a backdrop against which we see how Des, Amna and Esposito’s lives as teenagers. We see the racism Amna stoically endures, Victoria’s troubles (as evidenced by the music she listens to – I’m not saying she’s troubled by the music, but that it speaks to her pain in a way she understands) and Esposito’s drive to enlist, as different facets of the same experience – that being a teenager is hard, that most teenagers suffer in silence and that in the end, if you survive long enough to be able to look back, life is a series of moments, most of which in and of themselves mean nothing.
As much as Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job #1 is a social commentary on coping with growing up under severe stress, this issue is not without its genre elements. Opening with a figure escaping through the night, we cut to a trio of small time criminals, sweating over a bag of money stolen from them. The ‘A Simple Plan’ vibes grow heaviest when our main characters stumble over the partially hidden bag, which is shown to contain lots and lots of cash. How all this plays out against a backdrop of our three erstwhile friends is going to shape this series in lots of interesting ways.
BOTTOM LINE: GUT-WRENCHING
Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job #1 is a hard reading experience, especially for those directly impacted either by the 9/11 attacks, or just the perils and hardships of being a teenager. It basically says that in life, we’re all on our own, and that even when others reach out to help, they themselves are suffering from their own pains.
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Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job
intriguing, with familiar genre elements as a framing device, Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job #1is a compelling, at times sad reading experience.