Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Dale Eaglesham (p), Rodney Ramos (i)
The book opens with Kyle building up the courage to attend his high school reunion, and we see that like most people looking to prove that they've spent the last ten years making a success of their lives, he is all too eager to bring Jen along, as her stunningly good looks make for visual proof of his accomplishments. As the two make their way across country, Kyle ends up getting caught in a lie, as Jade learns that Kyle's been deliberately keeping her from meeting his mother, but Kyle manages to explain his way out of this precarious situation without offending either of the two women. As Kyle & Jen make their way to the reunion we see them move through the gauntlet that includes spurned would be girlfriends, crude jocks who never quite grew up, and the ever famous "I have no clue who you are, but I don't want to offend you by admitting this" encounter. We then rejoin the two later that night as we see Kyle's conversation with his mother about his recent meeting with his father is interrupted by a phone call from back home. As the issue ends we see Kyle is devastated by what he learns, and Jen isn't in much better shape.
Up until the final couple pages of this issue, the story mostly revolves around Kyle dealing with the dreaded high school reunion, and while it does result in some cute little moments, as well as give us a peek at what Kyle’s world was like in high school, for the most part I found this section of the issue felt like Judd Winick was simply filling space with inconsequential bits of comedy. Now I did enjoy the banter between Jade & Kyle, as the two do come across as a genuine couple, and the scene where Kyle explains to his mother & Jade why he's kept them from meeting each other is a great little moment. However the scene where Kyle discusses meeting his father was incredibly mawkish, and this feeling is compounded by the final couple pages which offer up the suggestion that next issue will be twenty-two pages of the same. Now I don't mind emotional, heart wrenching scenes, but I do find it hard to buy into them when a writer is doing such an obvious job of playing on the reader's sympathy, and the last five pages of this issue it's very hard to ignore Judd Winick's efforts to play with his readers emotions.
The plot thread that I've been hoping I wouldn't see since a certain supporting character was first introduced looks to have arrived in the final pages of this issue, and I couldn't be more disappointed. I realize that comic writers draw from the headlines all the time, and one of the main reasons why I suspected that Judd Winick was going to incorporate this idea into his book is because it's an emotional idea that would shock & hopefully open the readers eyes to a very real problem. However, now that the moment has looked to arrive I'm left with the feeling that the only reason this character was in the book was so Judd Winick could deliver this scene. I should've got the hint when almost every scene featuring the character had him overcoming all the other hurdles we've seen dealt with in other stories dealing with this issue, so Judd Winick's rolling out this tragic final note should come as no surprise. However, since one of my biggest complaints about the character was that he was more a collection of scenes than a real character, I can't say I'm all that pleased by the predictable method Judd Winick has decided to close this character's arc with.
While the dialogue has fun addressing this point, I do have to openly wonder about Dale Eaglesham's artistic ability, when every female character in the book looks like they're a super model, and this idea becomes even more ludicrous when Kyle's mother is subjected to the same treatment. However he does redeem himself with the background appearance by of one of my favorite Green Lanterns on page thirteen. The art also does some nice work on its facial expressions, as I had to smile at Jade's expression after Kyle denies being a geek in high school, and the scene where Jade & Kyle's mother deal with Kyle's little hissy fit was equally cute. There's also Jade's "I'd rather be anywhere but here" expression as she's told about the downside of herbal remedies, and Kyle's "I'd like to strangle you" expression as he's asked what he really does for a living. The art also does a nice job conveying the emotional important of the final couple pages, as when Jade enters the room we know it's something big, but the final three panels of the issue nicely understate just how devastating the news is.
The scenes leading up to the reunion, and the reunion itself are quite enjoyable, though the latter is largely comprised of stock comedic situations that I've see play out in the half-dozen high school reunion stories I've encountered over the years. I also enjoyed the little tap dance that Kyle has to perform after Jen & his mother uncover that he's been purposely keeping them apart, and Jen proves to be a regular source of amusement as she needles Kyle in the opening scene, and when she enters the museum that is his old room. However, the final third of this book doesn't quite work for me as it's a bit too obvious that Judd Winick is working at wringing the emotional angst out of the material. I'm also a bit wary about the final couple pages where Kyle gets the phone call, as frankly I saw a plot like this coming the second this supporting player was introduced. I had rather hoped Judd Winick could've come up with way of exploring this idea that was quite so obvious in it's bid to present a fairly important idea.
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