“The Delinquents” #1 just might be the single most entertaining comic book released in the month of August. Or maybe even the entire year of 2014. Valiant Entertainment puts full, comprehensive emphasis on “entertainment” and gives readers a comic book that is so much more than just a story written by James Asmus and Fred Van Lente with gorgeous Kano art. There’s a portion of a board game on the variant cover and pieces for the game inside the comic. The opening scene would function perfectly as storyboard images, complete with story titles and creator credits. And the characters inside “The Delinquents” #1 are instantly engaging and thoroughly enjoyable.
Van Lente is credited with story work alongside Asmus, who holds solo credit for writing this comic book, which runs the gamut of buddy flick gone wrong then slams into caper mode and finally becomes a story of an adventurous quest. The writer doesn’t consume page space with recap scenes to highlight either duo’s ongoing series, but he does provide plenty of definition around Archer, Armstrong, Quantum, Woody and Stinky Wally for readers to comfortably settle into “The Delinquents” #1 and enjoy the construction of an offbeat adventure centered around a map drawn on and skinned off of a man’s buttocks (yes, the infamous “ass map”). Asmus doesn’t hesitate to blend dark humor with stark consequences, including a confrontation with a man named Mister Meat. The writer throws in humor, but doesn’t forsake story, keeping readers hooked through humor, action and character revelation. Armstrong even serves as a vehicle to subtly connect adventures and environs from other Valiant Entertainment properties as he professes his own personal confusion between Goths and Visigoths.
Kano handles all aspects of the art in such a manner that “The Delinquents” #1 should be incorporated as a masterful “how-to” example. A seventeen-panel page faces a sixteen-panel page, and neither seems overly crowded or needlessly cramped. Kano gives readers an astonishing amount of information, including panels devoted to hobo code that are then translated by letterer Dave Sharpe. The artist doesn’t simply grid up pages and dazzle readers with astonishing levels of detail, he creatively designs pages to flow with the story through the page, like Bill Keane’s “Family Circus” adventures where readers observe the meandering path from one point to another. The book’s art is also incredibly subtle and minimalistic in places, with panels devoted to silhouetted action and simple color backgrounds punctuating critical conversations. Just as comfortable drawing humor as he is with combat, Kano provides plenty of chuckle-worthy moments. More than a few of those come from Kano’s work with Vincent Van Goat, who is a splendid addition to the wacky, entertaining cast of “The Delinquents” #1.
Valiant Entertainment has given readers a lot of great reads over the past two-plus years, but “The Delinquents” #1 is a brand-new highlight that is just as approachable for new readers as it is for veteran Valiant fans. Asmus, Van Lente, Kano and Sharpe provide a perfect example of how to blend humor and action, adventure and fun. This comic is sure to find favor with readers who enjoy “Avengers” or “Chew,” and presents something that many claim they want: new and different. Of course, it’s also funny and innovative, which certainly doesn’t hurt.