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Review – Flavor Volume 1 (Image Comics)

Flavor Volume 1 (Image Comics) cover (detail) by Wook Jin Clark
Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10
  • Writing - 8/10
    8/10
  • Art - 9/10
    9/10
  • Overall - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
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Summary

Co-Creator/Writer: Joseph Keatinge
Co-Creator/Artist: Wook Jin Clark
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Flatting Assistant: Fernando Arguello
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Culinary Consultant: Ali Bouzari
Logo Design: Rich Tommaso
Trade Design: Shanna Matuszak
Publisher: Image Comics
Maturity Rating: Teen+
Release Date: November 21, 2018

Flavor is self-described as a Young Adult Culinary Fantasy, and there couldn’t possibly be a more accurate or evocative way of explaining it. It follows young Xoo, a determined yet unlicensed chef, in her attempts to make something greater for herself.

 

Flavor is a Fun and Food-Filled Series

Flavor is an all-new series from Image Comics. And yes, it is, in fact, about cooking. That may sound like a weird concept for a graphic novel, but the creative team behind Flavor has done a wonderful job of making it work. The series is self-described as Young Adult Culinary Fantasy…and it’s both oddly descriptive and accurate.

Writing

Flavor sits somewhere between The Hunger Games and Miyazaki’s films. It’s closer to the latter than the former, though. It’s a dreamlike world where food is the most important thing for everyone. This is so true that people will even put their lives at risk to try and prove their worth as a chef—hence the Hunger Games influence.

Flavor Volume 1 (Image Comics) cover by Wook Jin Clark
Cover by Wook Jin Clark

Despite some of the darker points in the series, the tone is surprisingly light. Yes, bad things happen to good people, and occasionally a bad thing even happens to someone who deserves it. The city is unfair; there is a very strong class structure and those on the bottom…well, things don’t go too great for them. But even while reading all of that I still felt like there was a strong sense of hope in the series. That likely had a lot to do with Xoo’s personality. Her comically intelligent dog companion probably didn’t hurt things either.

The series moves along at a decent pace, wasting no time in explaining the important parts of the world. While some information is presented like it’s the most obvious thing ever (such as the importance of food) other elements are merely hinted at (like the purpose of the wall and the guards on it).

Xoo’s character reminded me so much of Miyazaki’s style. She’s strong, independent, stubborn, and most importantly, she’s driven. She’s paradoxical in that she can be mercilessly blunt about her situation, while also being optimistic about her future. It’s endearing, and in a short amount of time, I found myself rooting for her success.

I get the impression that the series will start leaning more towards a darker edge as it goes on. There’s a sense of foreshadowing about that wall. And there’s something oddly dark about the way the city obsesses with food. I believe there’s much more than meets the eye in this city… This feeling proves that Joseph Keatinge did an excellent job of catching my attention and my curiosity.

While writing this review I took the time to look at the people involved in the project, and I found something noteworthy. Along with the typical team members you’d expect, there’s something that is surprising, though perhaps it shouldn’t be. They have a culinary consultant on the team, Ali Bouzari. This explains so much about the series. There are a lot of specifics mentioned throughout, from ingredients and their quality to the preference of recipes. It’s a nice touch, including somebody who’s an expert in this field, as it certainly added a touch of realism to the whimsical world.

Art

The art is rich in colors while also maintaining a lighter look. The richness lends well to the culinary theme of the series. There are lots of earth tones, with brighter accents appearing on most of the pages (usually a rich red or a vibrant teal). And of course, there’s plenty of attention to detail when it comes to the food.

The character designs are interesting. They’re somewhere between manga characters and comic book characters. I rather like this combination, as it allowed the artist, Wook Jin Clark, to pull from either style as needed, thus forming his own style in the process.

Conclusion

Flavor is turning out to be a unique reading experience. The combination of storytelling and a culinary focus is different, but lends well to a new form of storytelling. All of the characters introduced seemed to have their own motives and personalities, which is always a nice touch.

The creative team made the right call in seeding a few hints of the darker elements happening in the world. It’s enough to keep a reader curious, and will likely encourage them to grab the next volume as it comes out (I know I will be!).


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About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

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