Graphic Novel Review: Joyride Vol. 1 by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly

Joyride Vol. 1 by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly (Joyride #1)

Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, YA

Publisher: BOOM! Studios on September 21, 2016

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Earth sucks.

Earth is a terrible place to live when you’ve been marked as an aberrant, someone who refuses to conform to the standards of behaviour, dress, and thought set forth by the shadowy fascist regime that controls the planet. Few teenagers know that better than Uma Akkolyte, a fugitive who’s been living off the grid ever since her parents were killed. She’s been moving from place to place, just biding her time until the stars align and she can finally put her plans in motion: escaping earth for life amongst the stars. Because when earth sucks, what’s a girl to do? Grab your friends and reluctant allies, and get the hell out of dodge.

JOYRIDE VOL. 1 introduces a cast of young, likeable characters who come from disparate backgrounds but are united by a common goal: freedom. Freedom from political persecution, tough moral choices, parental expectations, and more. Of course, as time goes by, Uma, her best pal Dewyddin, and their reluctant ally Catrin will learn that just because you’ve escaped earth doesn’t mean you’ve escaped your problems. Bummer.

Image: Irma Kniivila and Marcus To (Illustrators)

While I liked these characters overall, I have to admit that they’re all pretty archetypical and their various backstories were easily predictable from the first few pages. Uma in particular was quite frustrating for me, as her “let’s do cool space stuff” attitude veered away from charming and more towards irritating several times. The real scene-stealer is Bot, an ant-like robot who’s inability to verbally communicate with the rest of the group doesn’t stop him from connecting with everyone. In between fixing the spaceship’s engine and leading daring rescue missions, Bot always has a little extra time to join the rest of the gang for a good old fashioned dance party. Despite the occasionally quite dark subject matter, JOYRIDE VOL. 1 remains relatively lighthearted and hopeful, which I’ve always though of as the hallmark of BOOM! Studios comics.

There’s a lot of potential here for strong world building, as the gang steer their stolen spacecraft into all sorts of danger and encounter all manner of alien life forms. JOYRIDE VOL. 1 barely scratches the surface of this world, but I expect we’ll see more of it in the second volume now that all the major players have been introduced and their respective story lines established. Those of you who are bothered by trite dialogue and cliche character motivations (dead parents, evil father, etc.) may want to steer clear, but personally I didn’t find myself too bothered by it.

The art style is a refreshing change of pace for this publisher, as many BOOM! titles have a signature “cutesy” style that wouldn’t work for this world. Kniivla and To do an excellent job with the character’s micro-expressions, and there are a number of panels where Uma and Catrin say a lot with just a look. Let’s just say that there are plenty of eyebrow raises and small smirks to go around.

In the end, JOYRIDE VOL. 1 is exactly what it says it is: a fun, intergalactic space romp about a bunch of young people who just want their first taste of freedom. Sticking it to the man? That’s a welcome bonus.

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  • I should so read more graphics

  • Sounds a little trope-y but I really like the art style!

    • It’s definitely trope-y but I think that’s going to be the appeal for a lot of people. And the art is bomb!

  • The first thing that caught my eye was the artwork, it’s definitely my type of art! I love the idea of this story, but perhaps future volumes will go deeper and break out of the mold.

    • I really loved the artwork too, and I was pleasantly surprised to see BOOM! Studios switch it up a bit in terms of style. The tropes and space-romp storyline were fun, but I’m definitely looking forward to a more fleshed-out volume 2.

  • Is that a dancing ant? That looks like a dancing ant.

  • Greg Hill

    This looks fun! Yeah the tropes might cause a little eye- rolling but I can overlook that if the rest of it works. And who hasn’t dreamed of just taking off and exploring the galaxy? Er, I have lol. And I love it when the art can convey character expressions, since some of the murkier art out there has trouble with that in particular sometimes.

    That dance party art looks pretty good too!

    • It was so fun! Joyride Vol. 1 reminded me a lot of your description of the book Starfall, actually, which is another story I really want to read. OMG, me too! I wouldn’t steal a car, but some sort of futuristic vehicle or space craft? Hell yeah.

      The artwork is great! And the dance party scene made me laugh. 🙂

  • I love that tagline. LOVE. Admittedly, too familiar tropes can test my patience, but it somehow works, I can forgive it.

    • Isn’t it awesome? I totally did a little book shimmy of glee when I saw it. Trope-y books can work for me as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously or drag on too long. Fingers crossed the next volume has some surprises in store!

  • This sounds like a laugh. I get it’s not totally original with character backstory and motivations but this is the first volume, you have to give it chance to develop and see how it goes. I will have to check this out because it sounds like fun and really, one cannot say no to a fun space romp, can they?

    • It was definitely a laugh! A lot of fun and the perfect read to pull me out of a sort of slump-y reading period. I am weak for a good space romp! There’s just something about them that pulls you in right from the start and doesn’t let go…the perfect adventure story, in my opinion.

  • Lynn Williams

    Probably not one for me tbh but the artwork is beautiful and vibrant – and is that a dancing ant??
    Lynn 😀

    • The artwork was one of my favourite parts for sure! Hahaha, yes – it’s a dancing robot that looks like an ant. 😀

  • This sounds like a great premise!! I did love the artwork as well. but disappointed the story line wasn’t more unique and less cliche! Awesome Review!

    • Thanks Tori! Great to see you back. 🙂 This one was a ton of fun and I loved the art, but I’m definitely hoping that the second volume improves.

  • I think I looked at this one on NG since it looked interesting. Bot sounds like an awesome character! I think I might be someone who’d be bothered by the dialogue and motivations, but I can definitely see how this could be a fun read with some nice artwork!

    • I grabbed this one of NG! Basically all the Boom! Studios comics give me a “grabby hands” reaction, haha. Bot was SO great, and a welcome way to break up tension and explore the world of Joyride outside of earth. This is a good choice if you want a fun adventure story!

  • I’m intrigued by Bot! Haha. It definitely does sound like a great space romp. Glad you enjoyed this 🙂 Awesome review, Danya!

    • Bot was the best! Who doesn’t love a dancing ant-like robot, right? 😀 Joyride is a ton of fun, and it’s a great “in-between books” read too. Thanks, Cyn!