John Allison, writer & creator
Christine Larsen, illustrator
Sarah Stern, colors
Jim Campbell, letters
Previously in By Night, Jane, Chip, and Heather save Barney from a crime organization while they solve a mystery surrounding monsters in a pocket dimension. This issue begins, Barney and Jane arrive to work, Jane is still upset about how her life was changed by previous events. Barney remains fearful that crime boss, Donald Gabriel, will find him and break his legs; so he arrives with casts on both legs, preemptively. The book is full of these humorous moments, making light of serious life-situations, which prompts the reader to both empathize and look objectively at the material.
Another personal moment occurs when Jane and Barney take their boss out to celebrate his 80th birthday. He laments that nobody remembers his birthday anymore. Jane reminds him that all his friends and relatives are dead. The statement is both unceremonious but true, which makes the humor pop. While ate dinner, Jane comments that she doesn’t think that her body can process the amount of carbs she just consumed. The comment is both self-aware on a macro-level and informative as it pokes fun at the paleo-society in which we now live.
Later, Jane and Barney’s cohort Heather has a heart-to-heart with her father. He shares about his concerns surrounding her living back at home. In the story, Heather’s father makes the comment because of his fear that she would be stuck in loserville of a home town where they live. However, it sparks a larger topic the idea that parents want their children to live a better life than the one they led – to improve. The irony is that dad is building a machine to open an inter-dimensional portal to save a specific character. The same character Heather and her friends want to save. This parallel, a common pursuit, helped me as a reader to feel a stronger bond between Heather and her dad.
This is a young-adult coming of age story that tackles adult topics like addiction, adult relationships, transitions in a human-centered way. The art was cartoon-like, which seemed young for the topic and target audience. However, the innocent approach to the art provided a contrast to the mature subject matter and enhanced the messages as a result. I highly recommend this book to readers looking for stories grounded in the real world and who like to laugh, a lot. Overall = 9/10