By Josh Hood, Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon
We Can Never Go Home #1 is the newest comic Black Mask has to offer. If you have been paying attention to our Indubitable Issues segment lately, you will have noticed these Black Mask comics are no joke. There are some very strong books out there we think you should be reading. Titles like Critical Hit, Toe Tag Riot and Godkiller to name a few. If you missed these books, then I have great news for you: the best Black Mask has to offer is coming out next week March 25th, and it’s named We Can Never Go Home.
Open on a high school kid standing in a field, gun in hand working on his target practice. Where did this kid get a gun? Why is he holding a gun? Quickly we forget these questions as a pickup truck pulls up with two high school students, playing the clear roles of jock and high school hottie. The jock had a few too many and the hottie is on the verge of breaking out the “no means no” line. Sounds like the classic nerd-saves-pretty-girl-from-jerk-boyfriend scenario, but that is exactly when they hit you with the twist. Hottie’s eyes fill with beams of light and she beats the snot out of her football playing boyfriend. This is where the bond between our nerdy outcast, Duncan, and our super powered hottie, Madison, is formed.
The characters Duncan and Madison are extremely accessible, which I attribute to some fantastic dialogue. I have recently been in high schools while working through my education degree and the hallway talk has definitely changed since my day. What Rosenberg, Hood and Kindlon have done is create a dialogue which sounds current while also bringing in the elements of high school talk in the 90s.
Don’t you remember that girl you fancied in high school? Her looks caught your eye and everyone else just vanished away. There was only her. Then somehow you got to talking to her, or talking near her and you found out she is actually super cool. You feel the rush, could this be the perfect woman? Well, comic book nation, how would you feel if you discovered the cute girl you like had super strength? There is a great scene where Duncan first finds out about Madison and he just peppers her with questions. The page is 25 panels of him asking her questions about the power. It is hilarious in a oh-man-that’s-so-me kind of way. It is on this page that we really start to connect to Duncan, because it is here that we realize he is not just some nerdy outcast; he is a pretty cool individual. I think they like to call it “misunderstood.”
One great example of the way they fuse the generations in this book, which actually plays a huge part in the story, is when Duncan gives Madison a mixed tape. They have been hanging out ever since Duncan found out about Madison’s secret. Madison is keeping him in the friend zone, while Duncan is acting very cool about it, like he has everything right where he wants it. He hands her a mixed tape, my heart melts and I get flashes of high school and young Dean handing out mixed tapes to all of his crushes. This part hit so hard for me. This is just something you don’t see anymore, and why not? Mixed tapes have been getting made fun of on sitcoms for years, but they are hella romantic. It’s not like today where you can just slap a few tracks together and email a link to your gal of a playlist you made. If you make a mixed tape, you actually have to put time into recording it, you have to listen to all the songs. Also it allows you to put a piece of you and a piece of her into one package. Songs that remind you of her, songs you think she will like. Making a mixed tape sounds silly, but this is a huge romantic gesture, and I stand up and applaud Duncan for it. Remember we are in 2015, so Madison’s response when she receives the tape is, “I don’t have a tape player.” A great reminder that we are not in the 90s. Duncan’s romantic gesture is not over though. He smoothly tells her, “You’ll find a way to listen to it.” Madison goes home that evening to find a package at her steps, that package being a Walkman. Duncan, you sly fox.
There is a strong musical focus in this book, and I think this comic mirrors the effect music has on our lives. I have always been under the impression that the music I like is very personal. The songs that I listen to mean something to me, so when my friends have different taste, I don’t say their music sucks. It may not be the music that touches my life, but it sure is the music that touches their lives. For me, the same goes for comics. The most powerful comics are the ones that I can connect to my life. The ones where I feel like I am in the comic as one of the characters. These comics are probably different than the ones that touch your life. I’m not reading comics to find the best book there is. I read comics to feel something, whether it be excitement, sadness or joy. This book makes me feel. When I picked up this book, I was lost in the pages. I jumped right into the story like it was my own. I’m not going to say you have to read this book or you’re crazy. Maybe this book won’t hit you like it hit me. However, I will say that I loved this book and I’m excited for more of the high school runaway, unlikely partnership that We Can Never Go Home is delivering.