cover image THE ORIGINALS


Dave Gibbons, . . DC Comics, $24.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-4012-0355-9

Gibbons's masterful skills as writer and artist energize this coming-of-age story set in a slightly skewed world full of familiar frustrations and temptations. Young teen Lel doesn't see anything desirable in what mainstream society offers; he just wants flashier clothes, his own Hover to ride and membership in an elite gang. So he and his buddy Bok join the Originals, a gang with whom they engage in small-scale violence against rival gangs and bask in the acceptance of their peers. Alas, this doesn't last. Lel and Bok begin drifting apart once Lel starts spending time with a girl named Viv and selling drugs for a high-ranking Original. But when another needy gang wannabe carries the violence too far, Lel is faced with making adult decisions. Lel isn't a vicious sociopath, doomed to make selfish choices; he is, however, immature and still wrapped up in his fantasies. Although the story sounds familiar, it feels fresh. Gibbons, who's probably best known as the Watchmen artist, presents an outstanding example of art and layout with this work. The double-page spreads that put readers in the middle of a teen party or a gang rumble are particular standouts. Gibbons deftly captures Lel's world, as Lel experiences the excitement of the unknown and the emptiness that comes with violence. (Nov.)