The final issue of “New York Five” sees the girls we first met in “New York Four” apparently going their separate ways. Some are now a little older and wiser, some are just a little older, and some are plotting to get on a plane and leave their current life behind without so much as a backwards glance.
This final issue provides a satisfying conclusion to a story which somehow began life in a teenage girls digest line and ended up in DC’s mature readers division. It isn’t just the book that’s grown up – the characters have too. While it’s hard to call this series a natural fit for DC or Vertigo in any wider sense, it’s a shame that this issue also appears to bring an end to the story of the five girls we’ve come to know and their adventures in New York. Wood’s writing has a fantastic sense of character and strong themes, while Ryan Kelly’s artwork has been amazing from issue to issue. It can’t just be me who wants to read more from them both, can it?
Indeed, Kelly recently mentioned on Twitter that as of the completion of “New York Five,” he was officially free of projects beyond his own creator-owned work. Although creator-owned work can always be encouraged, in the case of artists like Kelly who have yet to gain the superstar status necessary to live off such work, it’s mind-boggling that his talent hasn’t been snapped up.
That’s because Kelly’s art has been nothing but the best throughout this project, at once subtle, detailed, and original. A lesser artist would have crumbled under the pressure of a comic like this, which would have immediately seemed devoid of any dynamic visuals, but Kelly has turned a comic that could easily have supported its weight on dialogue and plot into something indivisible from its look. It’s hard to imagine this project working so well with any other artist, so integral is the sense of time and place we glean from Kelly’s contributions.
In keeping with the book’s “slice of life” themes, the series doesn’t end with anything earth-shattering. Some people have changed, some haven’t, and they all have to come to terms with a couple of unexpected developments. You can’t fault the technique on display, and if the utter lack of testosterone in the subject matter puts you off, then it’s ultimately your loss to deal with. In a genre overwhelmed by male characters, it’s great to see a male creative team attempt a female-led book, and for them to get it so right. “New York Five” and its predecessor might ultimately feel like the smaller siblings of Wood and Kelly’s previous series, “Local,” but it’s just as perfectly formed. If nothing else, they’ve created a comic you would be proud to give to your female friends and relatives – and ultimately, the industry can always use more of those.