Fresh Romance, Vol. 1

Edited by Janelle Asselin. Oni, $24.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-62010-346-3
Familiar themes mix with modern sensibilities in an engaging new take on romance comics. Though the stories in this anthology feature tropes romance readers will easily recognize, primarily forbidden/hidden love, each creative team adapts them as they see fit, frequently adding magical elements. Notably, the characters take an active role in their fates; for instance, the teens in “School Spirit” by Kate Leth, Arielle Jovellanos, and Amanda Scutri create a fake love triangle to disguise two other relationships—one same-sex, one magic/muggle—opposed by bigoted parents. There’s a delightful variety in story tone and illustration, from the fairy tale nature of “Beauties” by Marguerite Bennett and Trungles (including a very P. Craig Russell look) to the more indie-style thick inking of the irreverent “The Ruby Equation” by Sarah Kuhn, Sally Jane Thompson, and Savanna Ganucheau. Jovellanos in particular keeps her characters in a constant state of motion, whether it’s a dismissive hand wave or shifting eyes. Not every story will strike like Cupid’s arrow, but the overall anthology is a great update to one of comics’ longest-running genres. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/18/2016
Release date: 08/01/2016
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