Blue Monday: Thieves Like Us #1 (Oni Press)

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Bleu Finnegan and her pals return after a nearly 5-year hiatus.

 

 

 

32 pgs. B&W; $3.50

(W / A: Chynna Clugston)

 

High school reunions are always an awkward proposition, a chance to see all the old friends you miss coupled with all the people you couldn't stand in the first place. Who got married? Who had kids? Who's got a great job? Who's still working for their dad? Who's going to get drunk enough to make an ass out of themselves? More importantly, who even cares?

The cover to Blue Monday: Thieves Like Us #1 by Chynna Clugston. Click for a larger image.That's what's great about comics: you can make high school friends and they can stay right there, frozen in secondary education forever. Case in point, when last we checked in with Bleu Finnegan and the kids at Jefferson High (in 2004's Blue Monday: Painted Moon miniseries), they were all sophomores. And here we are, five years later, and the kids are still sophomores, and still in the midst of their many romantic entanglements. A refresher: it's the early ‘90s, and blue-haired, New Wave/Brit-Rock loving Bleu has a massive, unrequited crush on her substitute history teacher, Mr. Bishop., but fails to notice that dirty-minded classmate Alan is crazy for her, while Alan is forced to fend off the advances of ice queen Erin. He likes her. She likes someone else. Yadda yadda yadda. Hijinks ensue.

It all sounds an awful lot like Archie, but Chynna Clugston's cast of eternal teenagers is headed in a much more sex-crazed direction. Thieves Like Us starts off in the heart of winter, with Bleu recovering from her painful rejection at the hands of Mr. Bishop. Convinced she can win him over if she just gets some "experience" (read: in the sack) and proves how mature she is, Bleu already has sex on the brain before a side trip with her friends to the zoo. The entire gang knows exactly what she's thinking, so Alan and his sidekick Victor naturally take every opportunity to rub Bleu's face in it as seemingly every single couple in the animal kingdom decides to bump uglies as soon as Bleu is within eyeshot. That list of couples includes Alan and Erin, who he is pretending to date in order to get Bleu jealous enough to chase after him. The whole thing, naturally, puts Bleu in a pretty effed-up headspace by issue's end.

The romantic hijinks only start to get cooking in this first issue, but there's already plenty here to sink one's teeth into. Clugston writes in a delightfully slangy, pop culture reference-laden style—think Joss Whedon, sans vampires. She has an uncanny ear for dialogue that instantly brings out the personalities of the characters. Even if you haven't checked in with the Blue Monday crew in a few years, they quickly feel like old friends, a feeling that sucks you back into their world of high school drama with a quickness.

Though the characters and writing are strictly "same as it ever was," Clugston has made major changes as an artist. While her art on the earlier Blue Monday series sported a heavy manga influence, that element has largely fallen by the wayside. Her characters still have the same large-eyed expressiveness but with a more realistic edge. Gone are the super-deformed asides, and also the screentones, replaced with bold, confident black and white artwork. It's sharp stuff that reads breezily and is pleasing to the eyes, but it's neither better nor worse than her old one, just different. Between the funny, engaging script and slick art, Thieves Like Us is a great choice for anyone looking to add a little romantic comedy to their lives. | Jason Green

 

Click here to learn more info about Blue Monday and a free preview of the series' first issue, courtesy of Oni Press. Click here for an interview with Clugston and a 6-page preview of Thieves Like Us #1, courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

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