Writer: Clay Adams & Kyle Roberts
Illustrator: Rafael Dantas
Colorist: Emilio Pilliu
Letterer: Clay Adams
Publisher: From Beyond Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Electric Youth is a stylish throwback to the coming-of-age, adventure-comedies of the 1980s.
It deliberately invokes the tone of genre titans, The Goonies & Stand By Me, with a dash of Stranger Things sinister sci-fi for good measure.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
During a daring raid to liberate some adult magazines from the dumpster of his local store before they are taken away by an oncoming garbage truck, Jeff discovers the body of a murdered boy. When no one will believe him, Jeff sets off to the town dump with his rebellious friend, Danny, in the hope that he can find evidence that proves his story and save the dead boy from being lost forever beneath a mountain of garbage.
But after the two friends spot some familiar faces loitering at the dump, they begin to realize that this mystery is even more sinister than it first appeared. Can Jeff and Danny uncover the secrets hidden at the junkyard, or will the revelations cost them their lives?
The story crafted by Clay Adams & Kyle Roberts does a great job at capturing the feel of a classic '80s teen movie. Each character is given their own distinct, if stereotypical, personality that is well-realized and even a little heart-felt. Adams & Roberts utilize these familiar archetypes efficiently and maintain consistent and logical characterization.
Dantas’s cartoonish style complements the overall teen-movie aesthetic, setting the story up to be a bright, light-hearted popcorn flick. While this is effective at building tone, it also serves to make the more dramatic moments hit harder whenever the fun is suddenly undercut.
Pilliu’s colors help to reinforce that '80s aesthetic with bright clothes that forge unique identities for each of the kids through visual style alone. The palette is bright and vivid, complementing Dantas’s cartoonish art well.
Adams's work on lettering is clear and easy to read. It is competently done, though it doesn’t push the envelope or try anything too innovative.
The story may not utilize the most original concepts but the creative team did a good job presenting it. The discovery of the body is shocking and the final twist is surprising, culminating in an ending that makes you want to immediately pick up issue 2 and find out what happens.
Dialogue for the teenage cast feels natural and authentic, adding to the teen-movie vibe and creating a sense of camaraderie between the kids during their heist.
Backgrounds are mostly empty and bland, which feels like a conscious choice rather than a lazy oversight. The dull backgrounds serve to keep the focus on the kids, but also to characterize the boring suburban town in which the story takes place. Reinforcing the mundane everyday life these kids are accustomed to.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The pacing is too fast in places. Characters like Mark and Amy quickly disappear, while some dialogue scenes run long. Excess time spent developing Jeff and Danny could have been donated to the two-dimensional supporting cast.
The characterization of female characters is simplistic and outdated. Amy is cast as the archetypal "bossy girl," while the only other woman mentioned, their teacher Ms. Corona, acts as an object of desire. It may fit with the "teen movie" tone, but they’re definitely tropes that should be left in the past.
The foreign shopkeeper stereotype is out of date, especially when the character's only personality traits are being foreign and shady.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Electric Youth is an exhilarating slice of '80s Americana that proudly flaunts the genre conventions of the decade's teen movies in a loving homage. Adams & Roberts craft a tale of misunderstood youth that sets up an intriguing mystery. Its premise could easily be cheesy, but by leaning into genre conventions, the creative team have crafted a nostalgic popcorn flick with a lot of charm. Dantas’s artwork complements the project, perfectly utilizing a cartoonish style that contrasts effectively with darker moments, making its final twist all the more shocking.
If you’re longing for a return to short-form storytelling in your comics, or riding the '80s nostalgia hype train that is taking pop culture by storm, Electric Youth is a charming romp that might be just the thing to scratch your Stranger Things itch between seasons.
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