Comic Book Series Review: 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank
“Hilarious, endearing, and all around fun as hell!”
11 year old Paige and her weirdo friends have a problem: a gang of ex-cons need her dad’s help on a heist… the problem is those ex-cons are morons. If Paige wants to keep her dad out of trouble, she’s going to have to pull off the heist herself.
4KWIAB is a very dark & moderately humorous story about friendship, growing up, d & d, puking, skinheads, grand larceny, & family. As told by TYLER BOSS (Lazarus, Vice.com) & MATTHEW ROSENBERG (We Can Never Go Home, S.H.I.E.L.D.: Quake)
The kids in this series make the Losers’ Club from the movie IT look like, well, losers. At least as far as humor is concerned. But I’m jumping ahead of myself. 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank is one of the latest home runs Black Mask Studios has hit. I don’t know what it is about this publisher, but they just know how to get the best from their creators.
The first Black Mask title I read was We Can Never Go Home by Mathew Rosenburg, which also featured young people doing bad things. Since reading that I’ve plowed through a whole bunch of Black Mask titles, and I’ve yet to pick up a dud. I’ve loved all their books. So, if you love good creator passion projects, definitely give Black Mask a chance. Anyway, let’s get back to why you’re reading this.
This unique tale starts off with a very cool and fun way of introducing the main characters. Rather than a typical straight up introduction, we meet the characters through their alternate characters during a fantasy role playing game.
When we actually meet the real versions of the characters we realize they are foul-mouthed, funnier versions of the kids from Stranger Things. We have Paige, a strong-willed albeit almost too stubborn girl who lives with her somewhat hapless dad, Stretch, a lanky kid who just wants to help everyone, Walter, the almost inaudibly quiet super-nerd, and Berger, the loudmouth borderline moron who is as wonderfully annoying as he is hilarious. Together, they make for one of the most enjoyable kid groups in all of comics.
Writer Matthew Rosenberg has done a phenomenal job with crafting a fun yet heartfelt story. Just like he did with We Can Never Go Home, the chemistry between all of the characters feels real, and so do the characters themselves. He’s also done a wonderful job of knowing when to pull back the humor for the serious moments, and when to go all out with over-the-top goofiness.
This is a hard act to balance, but Mr. Rosenberg has mastered it. I also loved how the characters, even though they are young, don’t speak in ridiculous modern slang to show their age. Their actions show their age! If you don’t know what I mean just watch any TV show that depicts kids dealing with adult situations. Usually they act like helpless toddlers or full-grown adults. Fortunately, the kids in this series act just how they should for their age. And that makes the story much more engaging.
Another thing this series gets right is how it deals with such a ludicrous concept yet keeps a firm grasp in reality. The kids have a few wild fantasies throughout the series but the real world always comes back with a vengeance—showing that no matter how much we try to escape reality through woolgathering, we always have to deal with our problems eventually.
For such a funny series there are some really poignant moments and underlining emotional elements throughout. It’s like no matter how goofy things get, you know you can’t let your guard down due to what real life awfulness might happen. Yes, real life, because this story is written so well it actually sucks you in and makes you focus on the consequences these characters face. And in my opinion, that’s damn impressive considering the medium the story is being told through; it takes a highly skilled professional to build such an investment from its readers in the comic book format, but Mr. Rosenberg has done an amazing job.
The art in this series is also fantastic. While the character designs are simple, the color schemes, background art, and panel layouts are some of the most original I’ve come across. There are some pages that are a giant checker board of panels, yet they work perfectly with the story.
Artist Tyler Boss did a magnificent job in telling the story through his art. He also utilizes slightly different art styles depending on the part of the story being told, mainly the fantasy parts where the kids are pretending to fight dragons and whatnot. One part I especially loved, and I mean absolutely loved, is at the very beginning when Mr. Boss incorporated the Kanagawa Wave (a famous painting from the 1800s) into the kids fantasy. The painting is hanging on the wall in the house they are playing in, but it’s depicted as real in their fantasy world.
I’m not going to blab on and on as our reviews are meant to be very fast and give you just the basics, but I will say this is a series you should definitely check out. Especially if you enjoy Stranger Things or the move IT; this might just end up being your new favorite comic book series.
I’m giving 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank…
5 Out Of 5 Whiskey Shots
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Tyler Boss
Letterer: Thomas Mauer
Format: 5 issue mini-series