Written by Kiwi Smith and Kurt Lustgarten
Illustrated by Naomi Franquiz
Colors by Brittany Peer
Letters by Jim Campbell
Review by Jason Kahler
Misfit City #1 from Boom! Box wears its love for The Goonies on its sleeve and across its pages. The book is unabashedly the story of what life would be like for people living in the town where The Goonies was filmed, except, for the comic, Cannon Cove was the setting for The Gloomies.
See? Not The Goonies. The Gloomies. So Warner Bros. doesn’t have to sue.
Cannon Cove is now a tourist trap destination that caters to tourists looking to visit the film’s locations and historical museum. Macy works at the museum, offering guided tours of the museum’s attractions, including movie-worn sweatpants.
One afternoon she takes delivery of a mysterious old treasure chest, bequeathed to the museum by the recently-deceased Old Captain Denby.
Inside the chest? A treasure map, of course. But Macy is less than enthusiastic about following its directions. Luckily for us, she has a group of friends who are up for adventure and she quickly changes her mind.
Misfit City employs a deliberately familiar set-up, so going forward in the series, we need to see it move beyond a re-telling of classic 80s child adventure movies. It tries to find a different voice with the female casting, but the characters mostly all speak in the same cynical, disaffected voice. Life in Cannon Cove is dull, full of oysters and loud tourists, drenched in fog. We can’t blame its inhabitants for being wet blankets, but that doesn’t mean we want to spend time with them.
Their general malaise makes their quick embracing of the story’s promise of adventure a little jarring. But the story needs adventure, so off we go (in issue #2).
The art is crisp and sharp, but also familiar. I’ve seen this style used effectively before by other artists. The faces are expressive, approaching but not slipping into cartoonishness. The look reminded me of Faith Erin Hicks, whose work I enjoy.
Misfit City is another piece of our 80s popular culture nostalgia. I’m reminded of Stranger Things from Netflix. Both series are aimed at people who love popular culture from the 80s, but while the kids from Stranger Things embrace that material, the characters in Misfit City don’t. The attention The Gloomies brings to Cannon Cove is unwelcome. That casts a pall over the book as thick as any of the city’s fog.
Verdict: If you’re on the 80s nostalgia train, this is a buy. I like the art. I like the setting. I just don’t like the people. For it to be successful, this book has to work like the tourist trap it portrays. We need to feel welcomed and appreciated as we exit through the gift shop. Right now, I think there’s still more reason to just go watch The Goonies than to hang-out in Cannon Cove.