ADVANCE REVIEW! Kevin Keller #1/Veronica #207 will come out on June 8, 2011.
While key portions of Kevin Keller #1/Veronica have been showing up on comic book news sites, blogs, and message boards for almost a week, all the ensuing discussion is actually something of a disservice to Dan Parent’s story. Yes, we see Kevin’s coming out to his parents and that he wants to join the military, but that isn’t the whole story. This isn’t a political tract. “Meet Kevin Keller!” tells a story — and it’s a good one! Funny and sweet, without being sappy, it’s typical Archie Comics fare. Parent’s Kevin is a character, not a symbol of diversity or political viewpoint.
As the gang prepares for Riverdale’s 4th of July celebration, Wendy and William, two students from Kevin’s old school, arrive with a dramatic “You let lowlifes like this in Riverdale?” The stage is set for flashbacks that help define who Kevin is and his relationship with friends and family.
Parent does something this issue that I’ve been waiting for since Kevin’s first appearance. While Veronica is the reader surrogate, asking the questions readers want answered, Kevin’s viewpoint is finally explored. We get his take on events. He’s no longer an object as viewed by others, but an individual expressing his own thoughts. We see what makes him happy, what makes him mad and how he reacts to both. It’s a huge step forward for the character.
Take away the “Secret Origin of Kevin Keller” bits and you still have an entertaining story about a pie eating contest between Kevin and Jughead and Veronica’s innocent act of sabotage. Parent has ramped up the established antagonism between Veronica and Jughead to great comic effect. Her “Let Jughead go! He’s already a mess!” is true to character and injects a needed dose of humor into a serious scene. Parent has a great scene of timing.
The art is expressive and engaging. Parent and inker Rich Koslowski do an especially nice job on the young teen versions of Kevin, Wendy and William. They’re kids who haven’t gotten over the hump of zits and braces yet. Their hair is all over the place and they’re pudgy and gawky. In other words, typical kids. It adds another layer of realism to the story. As an added bonus, the grown-up Wendy looks a bit like Abby from NCIS. Veronica also has a couple nice panels where she leans against Kevin, cradling his face, or expresses worry. While the characters sometimes look a bit stiff when standing still, when they’re moving or in physical contact with one another, they have a strong sense of weight and motion. Jack Morelli’s lettering is clear and readable and especially evocative during the pie eating sequence.
The page layouts are simple and easy to follow. Parent often changes the shape of the panel or how it’s bordered, but he sticks to the grid format. Readers are free to concentrate on the story without having to worry about where to look next.
Digikore Studios’ colors are clean and clear. The blues and blacks they use during night scenes tell readers what time of day it is without obscuring what’s happening. The fireworks finale scene is gorgeous. Using white and yellow at the center of the fireworks they create a subtle glowing effect and the red and white stripes of the American flag in the same scene look almost glossy.
Kevin Keller #1/Veronica #207 is an intelligent and fun story that features humor and solid character work. Fans of good storytelling won’t want to miss it.