Jacques Nyemb recently presented us with Smörgåsbord Squad #1, available now from Not So Super Comics. Thumbing through the pages, the first thing that struck me was the switch in style from the first half to the second. Nyemb wrote both stories for this issue, but split the artistic duties. Justin Wood illustrated the first story, with lettering by Marc Jackson. The second half was illustrated and lettered by Kayla Miller.
The artists work well together. The change is not jarring; neither style feels out-of-place, but rather, lend well to their respective stories.
In the first story, Wood’s artwork is clean, simple, contemporary. The pages are full and active but not cluttered. Fun and playful. He has an ability to emote well and captures some fantastic expressions from the characters.
Here, we meet the Smorgasbord Squad. For the most part, it’s a group of friends dressed in food costumes. But they have some other help as well, far stranger and a bit creepy. When all the food goes missing from the town of Hasenpfeffer, every finger points to The H.U.N.G.E.R. Pack, a gang of extremely hungry hooligans.
The Smorgasbord Squad hit the road in a food truck, determined to save the town. Things quickly take a turn for the weird, the narrative twists and devolves into chaos. The ending could be taken a few ways. All things are not clear here or cut and dry. More questions are asked than answered. I look forward to the next issue to see if and how certain aspects are explained. The writer has certainly afforded himself plenty of room to play. We are given enough information to keep us involved and curious, and enough mystery to make us come back next time looking for answers.
In the second story, Miller’s illustrations are softer, pastel, more stylized. Her story is an origins story for some members of the Squad, told in flashback. The switch in style feels well suited for this plot device. I am hesitant to speak too specifically without spoilering all over the place. There are some great twists and turns in the narration. The surprises along the way are half the fun. I was smiling through out and laughing aloud a few times as the story unfolded. I was intrigued and I will definitely tune in next time.
Nyemb’s writing is the one common thread tying the book together. His story telling is is funny and absurd. He wastes no time with pleasantries or introduction. This allows the story to gallop forward quickly and pack a lot of action into just 22 pages. We jump into the story and figure out quick that we better hold on tight – this is a wild, weird ride.
There is nothing objectionable in here, I think any age could enjoy this book. There is a tiny bit of cartoon violence; some paranormal/ supernatural /extraterrestrial high-weirdness; a hint at bad language (seriously a hint, implied— and nicely done), so parents of younger and more sensitive children may want to have an initial read through before sharing with the family. But the artwork and wild plot twists should appeal to youngsters. It is sophisticated and intelligent enough for adults to enjoy as well.
My only complaint is that it ends too soon. I wanted more. Here, I think the creators knew exactly what they were doing. It’s better to leave your audience wanting more than giving them too much at once and wearing out your welcome.
The ‘cliffhanger’ at the end of part two bolsters my desire to see the next installment. The cover of this issue states that the evil they face may make their first issue their last, but I certainly hope that this is not true. I wouldn’t mind another helping, I will save room for seconds.
Rating: 9/10 – Highly recommended.
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