Tag: Ryan Kelly

The New York Five

by on Jan.29, 2011, under Comics

I’ve raved about Brian Wood a lot this year, putting him on my best of 2010 list (and almost putting him on it twice). Those books I loved were tightly constructed pieces of genre fiction, but he’s also done pretty good smaller-scale realist stories in the past. The best of these was Local, but The New York Four, which came out in 2008 (from Minx, DC’s short-lived imprint for teenaged girls), was also pretty good.

The New York Four was all about the experience of being a young person in New York, with a decent but not indispensable plot to hang all the scenery from. Wood has fun describing the East Village and Lower East Side in great detail, and does a good job of capturing the places and moods people who live in those fast-changing areas love about them. The East Village may not be the punk playground it once was, but that only means it needs to embrace a different, equally valid identity—says Wood, anyway.

(The funny part of this to me was that his plot centered on four NYU freshmen, and if there’s anything real East Village residents hate, it’s NYU students, freshmen particularly.)

Anyway, The New York Five continues the story. I’m more glad of that than I might usually be for a sequel because one of my complaints about the first book was that it left a fair number of loose ends. Wood wasn’t really trying to tell a story neatly—the shagginess was part of the design and this sequel was always planned, only delayed by the death of the imprint—but it’s always weird when we spend time watching characters do charged things like stalking a professor, for example, and then never get to the consequence.

On the other hand, I’m not sure about introducing a whole additional character. Four was already too many to service well, and it feels a bit like Wood is reaching to come up with things for two of the four to do.

The art is again by Ryan Kelly, who did a great job on Local and who’s also done occasional stories with Wood on Northlanders and DMZ. It’s his usual clean, high-quality Al Williamson-like work, though I sometimes wish for more streetscapes, given how important the city is to the narrative. His street scenes are often tightly focused on the characters; I think he could stand to show more going on in the background.

Preview before the fold.

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