We review the new graphic novel from Ed Brubaker and Marcos Martin and praise the cosmos for its physical format arrival.
Please forgive the title of this review. And I'm sure we're not the only ones who are gonna be cutesy with this comic's moniker in the same fashion. It's just that I'm so damn excited to finally have Ed Brubaker and Marcos Martin's Friday in my hands. I'm not anti-digital, quite the opposite. I love staying up late with my iPad in bed, devouring bright bursts of sequential goodness. But, dammit, there are comics that you need to touch and eventually trap on your shelves with the rest of your faves, and Friday is very much one of those comics.
When the first issue hit Panel Syndicate, many pointed toward Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys as spiritual ancestors. And yeah, sure, that's true, but it's also a tad simple and reductive. Friday is not about its references or genre even, it's about a deeply painful emotional earthquake that shatters a youthful bond. It's a severing that occurs in many of our lives as we slowly step into adulthood, and while we may not have murders to solve or specters in our woods, we can all recognize the trauma bubbling between Friday Fitzhugh and Lancelot Jones.
The first trade paperback collects Brubaker and Martin's first three issues, culminating in the saga's first act, entitled, "The First Day of Christmas." It's the introduction of our heroes and the burning emotional core that will propel the narrative forward. It's a romance, but one that refuses to satisfy, or even name itself as such. The space between Friday and Lancelot is filled with stumbles, sputters, and slaughter. You'll instantly connect with their awkward friendship, but with Brubaker and Martin at the helm, the good times are never as good as the dread that surrounds them.
Friday and Lancelot were there for each other when no one else was available. Their curiosity and their surroundings created an investigative partnership, where Friday and Lancelot made small town mysteries their extracurricular activity: "The Case of the Magic Gauntlet," "Night of the Teenage Crime Wave," "The Curse of the Viking Helm," etc. So, yeah, livin' that Drew/Hardy life. But as high school approached its climax, something occurred between them, and there's no coming back from it. Even when Friday returns home and Lancelot immediately puts her back on a case.
Brubaker and Martin are a dynamite pair. The writer continues to do what he does best, yanking tropes and crimes from well-established literary and cinematic genres, and injecting them with beautifully aching sentiment. Martin slides dreamily into this arena, capturing the hardboiled Scooby gang aesthetic, while also mastering the close-up, using his instrument to subtly establish the character's inner turmoil on their outer expression. Beyond the character work, Martin's paneling forever exhilarates, setting and selling scenes unlike anyone else in the business.
But if we were to ignore Muntsa Vicente's work on Friday, we would be committing a crime as heinous as the ones being combatted by Friday and Lancelot. Her colors ultimately achieve the passion pumping through the narrative. I look to her pink autumn skies, her blazing yellows and oranges, and I see everything I should be feeling as the reader. Vicente's colors crack with thunderous heart, and its in their radiance where my eyes grow the widest. These are pages that scream in digital, but on the page, my gaze drips into them. Cut these splashes out and slap them on the wall; make them your alter.
The only issue I take with Friday: Book One is that it's pages reach its conclusion too quickly, and we're left hanging at a moment that is so wretchedly agonizing. As presented, Friday is not complete. This is but a chunk of story, not the story itself. I'm hooked, and I'll be back for more, but I want that more now, dammit.
Not that you would ever grow tired of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' work together (their latest Reckless novel is maybe their best collaboration so far), but for those seeking a different criminal mood, Friday is their gift. Brubaker and Martin find a layer of melancholy here that's more warm than cool. This comic wraps around you like a memory, offering comfort for the suffering we all feel when old friendships slowly slink away. Your earliest intimacies burn the brightest, extinguish the fastest, and leave a lingering sting.
Quickie Review: Friday is an exceptional partnership, showcasing the brilliance of each individual creative. Brubaker and Martin are building a devastating mystery here, and the only problem is that we can't have it all now. In a short amount of time, you're fully invested in the relationship between Friday and Lancelot, and its a commitment that both rewards and punishes. 9/10
Friday: Book One - The First Day of Christmas
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Marcos Martin
Colorist: Muntsa Vicente
On Sale: 11/3/21
Synopsis: Collected in print for the first time—a young adult detective hero finally grows up in the first volume of this genre-defying, post-YA masterpiece from award-winning creators ED BRUBAKER (RECKLESS, FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, PULP, KILL OR BE KILLED) and MARCOS MARTIN (THE PRIVATE EYE, Daredevil).
Friday Fitzhugh spent her childhood solving crimes and digging up occult secrets with her best friend Lancelot Jones, the smartest boy in the world. But that was the past. Now she’s in college, starting a new life on her own—or so she thought. When Friday comes home for the holidays, she’s immediately pulled back into Lance’s orbit and finds that something very strange and dangerous is happening in their little New England town…
This is literally the Christmas vacation from Hell, and they may not survive to see the New Year.