Heavy Vinyl Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin & Nina Vakueva Review {Graphic Novel}

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin + Nina VakuevaHeavy Vinyl Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin, Nina Vakueva,  Irene Flores & Rebecca Nalty
(Heavy Vinyl #1)

Publisher: BOOM! Box (Boom! Studios)

Release Date: April 24, 2018

Pages: 112

Summary:When Chris joins the staff at her local record store, she’s surprised to find out that her co-workers share a secret: they’re all members of a secret fight club that take on the patriarchy and fight crime!

Starry-eyed Chris has just started the dream job every outcast kid in town wants: working at Vinyl Mayhem. It’s as rad as she imagined; her boss is BOSS, her co-workers spend their time arguing over music, pushing against the patriarchy, and endlessly trying to form a band. When Rosie Riot, the staff’s favorite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show, Chris discovers her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl . . . Her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Heavy Vinyl is an incredible graphic novel that follows an all-female vigilante group! With great art, 90’s references, female friendship, diverse representation, and of course–music, you follow Chris as she, alongside her co-workers at the local record shop, solve a case of a missing singer! With mystery, friendship, and so much more, Heavy Vinyl is a fantastic graphic novel!

I hadn’t looked too much into the summary, so all I knew going into Heavy Vinyl was: female friendship, record store, and GLBTQIA+ rep!

Heavy Vinyl was beyond spectacular!! (~˘▾˘)~♥♥ I had a feeling I would enjoy it, but by the time I reached the last page, I realized just how much I loved & adored it! ❤

Its easily become one of my new all-time favorite graphic novels! Its one I could see myself reading over & over again!! Its fantastic!!

Set in 1998 New Jersey we follow Chris, who is passionate about music & has worked at her local record shop, Vinyl Destination for about a month!

She’s gotten pretty close with her co-workers, Maggie, Dolores (who doesn’t exactly get along w/ her sometimes), Kennedy, and her manager Irene, but doesn’t feel included just yet.

She hopes to find some way to fit in with her new friends (she suspects that maybe they have a secret band, that they won’t tell her about!) and maybe find the courage to tell her co-worker/friend Maggie how she feels about her!

Then when a local band Stegosour has a gig at the shop and it turns out their lead singer Rosie Riot, goes missing, while she had her suspicions, Chris learns there’s more to her co-workers than she originally thought!

It turns out, they are actually part of an all-female vigilante group!

“It’s more than just fighting crime and beating bad guys though–we pledge to fight all forms of injustice…”

Chris is unsure whether she has what it takes to be alongside these brave women, but with some encouragement from Maggie + connecting more with Dolores, she discovers that she does belong!

The plot itself was so interesting! Its first all about Chris working in the vinyl shop and getting a bit of a romantic plot-line with Maggie and Chris wondering if anything could ever happen between them!

Then its all about the mystery surrounding Rosie who’s gone missing & Chris finding a way to fit in this secret group that her co-workers are all a part of!

However, the more they get into the mystery of trying to find Rosie & understanding why her band mates are starting to act a bit odd, the more it becomes a even more interesting case than they first thought!

The world of the vigilante group and the history behind it was developed in such a great way, where it never felt like all the info was just delivered all at once. It develops all throughout the graphic novel and builds even more into the mystery of the plot when you reach the very end!

There’s also such a great emphasis and overall theme of friendship/female friendship! Chris also has anxiety and all though she has a passion for music, she finds she doesn’t really feel like she clicks with any of her co-workers completely!

However throughout Heavy Vinyl, the more she becomes a part of the vigilante group, the more she comes out of her shell bit by bit and really feels she can belong at Vinyl Destination and connect even more with her friends!

There’s also a lot of diverse representation throughout Heavy Vinyl, which was so great to see!! From the f/f & m/m representation (Irene & her girlfriend & Maggie’s 2 fathers), black rep. (Kennedy), Puerto Rican rep. (Dolores), and lesbian rep. (Chris)!

The characters and their dynamics was one of my favorite parts! We have Chris who really looks up to Irene and wants to be like her one day (with her passion of music), we have Kennedy who kicks butt and is always on top of any situation, Maggie who is the cutest & apparently loves everything ^_^, & Logan + Chris who we see really get along through their love of comics (Logan works at the comic store not to far from Vinyl Destination & the relationship between him & Kennedy is the sweetest♥♥!!)

I also really loved the art style & the colors, they worked perfectly with the story, setting, etc.!!

While reading Heavy Vinyl, I also listened to my favorite band Haim ^_^ I don’t usually listen to music w/ lyrics while reading, but I found in this case, overall it made the reading experience even better!

I was so sad when I reached the end because its clear there is so much more to the vigilante group and the conspiracy they uncover regarding the missing bands, etc.!

I think my only very minor issue was that I wanted a bit more background for the Vinyl Destination girls like Maggie, Irene, Kennedy, & Dolores. Their characters really do shine throughout the graphic novel, I just wanted a bit more!

From what I heard, there is only 1 volume of Heavy Vinyl currently planned, but I do hope there’s more in the future!

So, if your looking to read another graphic novel or are looking for a story with female friendship, music, mystery and adventure, I highly recommend picking up Heavy Vinyl! You won’t be disappointed!

Heavy Vinyl is a stunning graphic novel! From its 90’s and music scene, great artwork, fantastic story, mystery, intrigue, diverse representation, and girl power, Heavy Vinyl is a graphic novel you don’t want to miss!

Fence Issue #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad Comic Review

Fence Issue 3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: January 17, 2018

Pages: 27

Summary: As Nicholas works to become a better fencer, Seiji takes an unexpected interest in his journey.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fence #3 delivers on more character development and is very much a plot driven issues! For those who’ve been wanting a bit more development compared to previous issues, readers will not be disappointed in this continuation!

As we’ve know from previous issues, Nicholas has the heart to be a great fencer, but as it turns out his skills need some work. He begins to train earlier & much harder before the big competition.

I loved that for those who don’t have too much knowledge on fencing (like me 😂 ) , the fencing terms are really easy to understand  & overall I loved learning more about the techniques involved with it.

Nicholas shares more of the King’s Row dynamics + daily life in this issue which really helped to give the perfect amount of background to characters introduced in Fence #2.

While it was clear Aiden was the school’s heartthrob (and player), we get a little more development to his character when he denies to having had any connection w/ classmate Jay (who is heartbroken). However, its clear not all the top fencing guys are mean, when Harvard confronts Aiden about his rude behavior.

We also get more tension between Nicholas & Seiji as they continue to be rivals. I also loved getting more from Bobby + seeing him with his roommate/friend Dante!! (Even though Dante hasn’t said a word, I can already tell he will be another one of my favorite characters 😆💕)

Nearing the end, the main arc of this issue was definitely building up to Nicholas’s first match against a classmate. To the class’s surprise, Seiji decides to watch his match.

As it turns out Seiji admits that his first ever match/victory against Nicholas was a fluke. While that definitely was a theory in my mind as I read Fence #1, I was shocked when it was true.

This issue is probably one of my favorites. It had so much development in terms of character & story, while also being perfectly paced.

As with the previous issue, there continues to be diverse representation from black, brown to Japanese & Filipino rep.! And gay rep. is better represented than being hinted at from previous issues.

Fence #3 is definitely the strongest issue in the Fence series so far! More background to the main cast and plot make this issue perfectly paced and developed. There continues to be great character dynamics & tension that build the plot, making Fence #3 a much needed + brilliant addition to the series!

Fence Issue #2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad Comic Review

Fence Issue 2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: December 20, 2017

Pages: 27

Summary: As Seiji and Nicholas struggle with their living arrangement, the competition heats up.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fence Issue #2 is a character-driven continuation of the Fence series! The introduction to new characters & build up to what is at stake for these fencers will keep you hooked!

As we saw in Fence #1, Seiji & Nicholas are now roommates. Their rivalry and tension continues as this issue finally introduces us to more of the King’s Row fencing team!

As Nicholas is on his way to the fencing room on campus, he figures out he’s been tricked by rival fencer, Eugene Labao, into going the wrong direction. Luckily, we get introduced to Bobby Rodruíguez who helps him get to the right room. ( I know Bobby will definitely be one of the fan-favorite characters of the series! B/C he’s one of my favorites for sure!)

Nicholas & Seiji’s dynamic is so interesting and I feel that the breaks in between their rivalry make each moment in this issue so entertaining & funny (Bobby vision vs. Nicholas vision is a perfect example!)

We get introduced to members on the current team: Tanner, Kally, & the captain!

I felt the introduction to the new members was pretty good for this issue & I’m hoping for more development in the next few issues.

As it turns out, with Nicholas’s scholarship on the line, he can’t afford to mess up (being late,  etc.) so the stakes for him as raising quite a bit as we figure that he has to make the team and reach the Championships against Exton (However only 3 spots are available!).

It was great to get even more diversity in Fence #2! This issue not only introduces more black + brown characters, but also Filipino-American rep. (Eugene), and trans rep (Bobby), and it hints at gay rep.!

This issue felt very much like build up and introduction to what will come in the next issues. Although it was great, I felt there could have been a bit more to develop the characters introduced, because it is clear there will be more from them in the future. Though I did feel there was much more development from Nicholas and Bobby in this issue.

Fence #2 is a well-developed continuation to the Fence series! With short introductions to who will obviously be more central and unique characters, this series continued to build tension and raise the stakes for the fencing team at King’s Row!

Fence Issue #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad Comic Review

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: November 15, 2017

Pages: 27

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is an outsider to the competitive fencing world. Filled with raw talent but lacking proper training, he signs up for a competition that puts him head-to-head with fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama…and on the road to the elite all-boys school Kings Row. A chance at a real team and a place to belong awaits him-if he can make the cut!

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fence Issue 1 is a brilliant start to a new comic series! The genius direction of the plot and introduction to the rivalry between the dynamic duo protagonists made Fence #1 such a page-turner! 

Okay I don’t usually buy comics issue by issue, but when I first heard about this series, I immediately knew I wouldn’t be able to wait for a complete volume!

If you’ve never heard of this series or just haven’t gotten reading it yet, please do! Its SO GOOD! I actually just marathoned all 3 issues because I knew I wouldn’t be able to put them down, so definitely keep an eye on the blog for reviews of Fence Issue #2 & #3 💙✨🤺

Fence #1 gets into the story right away as we are introduced to Nicholas Cox, 16-year old who is new to the world of fencing, but eager to compete and win in the Connecticut Regional Circuit.

As it turns out, his father, Robert Coste was an Olympic fencing champion in the 80’s. Ever since Nicholas was young and his father was out of the picture, he’d been drawn to fencing, but it wasn’t until he was a teenager that he was given the opportunity to learn.

He’s worked hard (starting at the basics, keeping up with school, work & earning just enough money to make it in) and while he is no champion, he does have a lot of heart and is determined to win. He’s told by his coach that if he wins a local tournament (Connecticut Regionals) he may have a shot at getting a scholarship if he is serious about fencing.

Now presently, he is about to enter his first match against Seiji Katayama, fencing prodigy who is incredibly skilled and on his way to the championships and possibly getting a scholarship from Exton (the best fencing school in the country).

Fellow competitors give him a hard time and believe he isn’t good enough to beat Seiji, but Nicholas isn’t giving in so easily.

This first issue of Fence really introduces a lot of threads to the story that will certainly become more complex as it continues. From Nicholas’s past, his dream to compete in fencing, to understanding fencing prodigy Seiji, the plot itself has you turning the pages and when you reach the end, eager to start the next issue right away!

I also loved that this series introduced characters of color( black, brown) & Japanese rep.!

What I felt really stuck with me about Fence (aside from the amazing + unique plot), was the characters! They are phenomenally developed! I adored the main characters Nicholas & Seiji so much!! Its clear there is so much more to them and this issue just gives you an introduction.

Their rivalry is what kept the plot of this first issue going, wondering who would win!

By the tournaments end, Seiji wins 15-0, however Nicholas vows he will beat him someday.

Six months later, Nicholas makes it to King’s Row (an all-boy’s school) on scholarship to continue with his fencing and has not forgotten his promise to beat Seiji in another tournament. As he makes his way to his dorm, he is quite surprised as to who his new roommate is!

While I personally think that the art-style could have been a bit more detailed on the backgrounds + expansion & detail on the action scenes, I felt it went perfectly with the story! It was vibrant, evenly colored and I loved the character designs! ❤

Fence #1 is a great introduction with the perfect mix of rivalry, character development, action, and dialogue to keep you hooked till the last page! Seiji & Nicholas are such incredible main characters that you will definitely be rooting for! If your looking for a new comic series I highly recommend Fence, it will not disappoint!

Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson Review

goldie-vance-vol-1Goldie Vance Vol. 1  by Hope Larson + Brittney Williams (Illustrator) (#1-#4)

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 112

Summary: Move over Nancy, Harriet, & Veronica. There’s a new sleuth on the block!

Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. Her mom, who divorced her dad years ago, works as a live mermaid at a club downtown. Goldie has an insatiable curiosity, which explains her dream to one day become the hotel’s in-house detective. When Charles, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A fun and fast-paced intro. to a new comic series!

I loved everything about this comic from the vibrant colors and retro 60’s feel of the art to the fun mysteries and mischief Goldie gets herself into! (Like car races!)

If there’s a mystery, Goldie is eager to solve it! She’s always keeping an observant/attentive eye around her and with the resort atmosphere she’s grown up in, has become friends with many of the employees!

The characters are given such memorable introductions and out of all the characters, I loved Goldie! She’s so spunky & fearless!

I adored the diversity in terms of races, sexualities, body types & family dynamics!

As for the plot itself, it centers around her adventures as a detective, helping the resort resort detective Walt with a case of a missing person + necklace. And there were side characters introduced, who I feel will definitely have more prominent roles in future volumes.

The plot unfolds pretty quickly + there was never a dull moment!

I loved everything about this story and I cannot wait to read Volume 2!

Filled with a diverse cast, fun mysteries, and unforgettable characters, Goldie Vance is perfect to check out if your looking for a new comic series!