Artist: Cassandra Jean (@CassandraJP)
Writer: Cassandra Jean and Mosskat (@Mosskat_Studios)
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
WHAT IS IT?
When a city boy moves in across the field from a big hearted farmhand, their seemingly normal lives are forever changed by the bonds they make over the course of the school year in this heartwarming queer series.
Think Heartstopper meets Stardew Valley.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Murry Summerfield is a hardworking young man who is the star of the high school football team and beloved by everyone in town. Tending to animals and helping his parents out on the farmstead, his days are simplistic and life is pretty good. His quiet existence changes when new neighbors move in across the field and their 17 year old son Jacob Durris - covered in piercings and dressed in black - brings some much needed excitement to his days. The young men form a quick bond and fill their days with conversations about art, animals, and the ever present stresses of homework.
Jacob's presence raises some eyebrows, and the old fashioned townspeople question his edgy appearance, causing a protectiveness to appear within Murry that he previously didn't know existed. After coming to understand the reasons for Jacob’s move to the countryside, Murry finds that keeping his new friend happy, and safe, is going to be a struggle while he's wrestling with the blossoming feelings swelling within him.
Mosskat’s narrative is one filled with longing, slow building romance, and honest coming-of-age storytelling elements that capture the emotional highs and lows of falling in love in your teens - all executed with a tender touch and a realistic approach. Murry and Jacob’s story is one that will stick with you for a long while.
Jean’s artwork is stunning and adds an almost whimsical vibe to the story. The moody color palettes, eye catching character designs, and subtle backgrounds help draw readers in to Murry and Jacob’s quiet little world, and every panel conveys immense emotion. The fact that she also assisted with authoring the story is impressive!
The font choices are *chef’s kiss* in this title. The SFXs feel perfect for the moments they are needed, which can be complex to pull off in a slice of life story without making it feel too action-y, and the variety of fonts used to portray speech, text messages, etc. convey the proper emotions with the right amount of style to captive you.
While these coming of age slice of life titles are fairly common nowadays, Cuckoos Three is a stand out competitor with its raw look at some of the darker aspects of life. Refusing to shy away from heavy topics, this story finds its heart in the healing and tender moments shared during not just the happy times, but the hard ones.
I appreciate the way Jacob’s D.I.D is portrayed, and how honestly and openly Murry accepts and tries to understand it. You can tell the authors spent an excess of time ensuring that it was realistic and given enough exposition without it becoming the focal point of his character, and it was refreshing to see it focused on the dissociative aspect that isn’t usually highlighted. The author’s note in the back, portrayed perfectly in-character by Jacob, describing D.I.D and its impact is a nice touch.
Another thing I appreciated was the subversions of expectations with these characters. Jacob isn’t upset that he was uprooted from the city to a small town and seems happy for the change, and Murry isn’t a stereotypical himbo, he’s intelligent and aspires to be more than what’s expected of him. There’s also no panic moment of “OMG I like guys, I need to have an existential crisis” that usually shows up in stories like this, so overall it’s a refreshing and beautiful take on a classic narrative.
While the variety of outfits for both Murry and Jacob do an excellent job of helping tell the story, I love the small detail of Jacob's bracelets - used to cover his self-harm scars - changing with his outfits. It's a great character design that's minimal but accurate to real life and leans into his artistic spirit.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Heavy themes including topics of self harm, anxiety, strong bullying, homophobia, mental struggles, and abuse of a child (not shown). Strong language, underage use of alcohol, and some brief adult themes.
While it does not impact the reading experience, things sometimes felt a bit disjointed between chapters, and it seems that time jumps ahead quite frequently and without warning but it isn't clear. There are also some story elements and characters that seem to get introduced out of the blue (sometimes never to be seen again) and it can make it a bit hard to connect to the moment.
There seems to be a grammatical error where Jacob says “animals can scent weakness”, which I think is supposed to say “sense”.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Cuckoos Three has everything I require for an instant favorite title and I would be remiss if I went and spoiled it all for you here in this review so you'll just have to trust me when I tell you it's worth picking up. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so emotionally invested in a story, since one gripped me so tight and left my heart fluttering with hope and warm fuzzies aplenty. Longtime fans of the series on WEBTOON will be elated to see the entire story compiled into one stunning volume - several chapters ahead of its full release on the platform and in full color, something the series has not had since the end of ch.4 - and new readers will easily find space on their "go-to favorites" shelf for the guaranteed multiple re-reads over the years to come.
This honest, heartwarming, and powerful romance story will become a fan favorite once it hits shelves on the 22nd. Featuring several bonus comics and one heckuva satisfying conclusion, this beautiful volume is a must for fans of stand out titles like Heartstopper and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, and is a great introductory volume for contemporary romance fans wanting to dip their toes into the world of comics. Definitely pick up this beautiful print edition when it releases next week!
HOW DO I READ IT?
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