It has been a long time since I have been excited, truly excited about a new comic series, but this did it. I can say with no reservations that I LOVE ROUTE 3! If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know that I am the judgmental type and do not dole out praise haphazardly. When I say that Route 3 is good, I mean that it is really good! Writer Robert Jeffrey II, and illustrator Sean Damien Hill has provided what may be my new favorite comic.
Let’s start with the story Route 3 issue 1 introduces us to a teenage boy named Sean whose life in turmoil after losing his mother, and that is only the beginning of his trouble. Sean fits the typical comic book trope of being a nerd and a bit of an outcast, but not in the here-we go-again, uber-predictable way. Sean is adorably awkward with girls, and has a slightly less nerdy, but super awesome friend, Ricardo, that we only see briefly but immediately love.. We get to know the character, his family and his life in a meaningful way, but it doesn’t linger too much. The action starts pretty quickly.
The story opens with what I can only imagine is the final battle of the initial arch of this series. We do not know whom Sean is fighting or why, but we see them floating high above the ground, fully ablaze in combat, ending in a giant concussive explosion, from which we do not get to see the results. You know how it is; spoilers. The narrative then goes back to what we assume is the beginning, and shows us Sean, having a nightmare back at home, in his messy room, socks and underwear strewn about in the manner only a teenage boy could pull off. Before long, the reader is pulled off on a dangerous journey of self discovery and bullet dodging that is hard to look away from. It really draws you in. I’d go on, but I don’t want to give away the entire plot!
I love that this comic, while filled with a largely black cast, is not strewn with stereo types and cultural normative pandering. Sean is not a thug from the streets, and either are his father or brother. His friends are relatively normal. He isn’t struggling with not fitting in with the “thug life”. There are drug dealers, but they only last a brief moment and are dismissed. Even as drug dealers, they do not appear stupid, gang-like, or over sexed and hyper-masculine, as black men are often portrayed in media.
The artwork on this series is well done, but could use some improvements. The covers, by Anthony “Antboi” Piper, are excellent. The coloring is bold and vibrant. It makes you want to see what is inside. The panels, for the most part are good, but a bit inconsistent, especially with the faces. There are some panels where the character is clearly the same person, but look very different, especially for Sean. This really shouldn’t happen with the main character… ever. I also noted the release dates of this series are few and far between, which sucks, because they are so great! This is the type of comic that you wait for at your local shop and harass your local owner for on a regular basis… likely weekly. I know, independent comics do not work that way, it is super expensive. I’m just saying, I’d want hard paper copies of this in my hand regularly… all of the time. For now though, we still have the beautiful kindle editions which you can (and should) buy here. I know that I did. You will NOT regret it!
Vanee is an author, reader, writer and teacher that lives at the corner of coffee shop intellect and text book geek! She loves cons, comics and camaraderie, as well as fantasy, fiction, and fandoms. Vanee is a Black Girl Nerd!