Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Comic Review: The Waiting Place - The Definitive Edition (IDW Publishing) By Rudy T.

Welcome to Northern Plains: The Black Hole of America where dreams are crushed, love is lost and everything else that can happen in a small town usually does.

Jeffery Dietz and his family have just moved from the city to the quiet tourist town of Northern Plains much to Jeff's annoyance. Now he's stuck with the label "the new kid" and trying to figure out what to make of the town's inhabitants. Whether he tries to evade the volatile Kyle who's harassment makes Jeff keep his distance from Jill, Kyle's girlfriend whom Jeff can't stop thinking about, or making friends with Scott the town's video store clerk. Scott invites Jeff to a party in the woods he's throwing and he meets Lora, a girl with a reputation for sleeping around and having no issue about anyone's opinion about it. As Jeff learns to adapt to his new surroundings and relationships, he discovers small towns can be just as complicated as any city.

The Waiting Place by Sean McKeever is an intricately beautiful story about the lives of the young people of Northern Plains that readers can connect with on many different levels and the ensemble is given opportunity to grow with each chapter, with a few forgivable exceptions. The shift in perspective from one chapter to the next was a great way to keep the flow of the story going and also allowed the reader to get to know the other characters. The artist change in Chapter 7 was slightly jarring but Norton's art was easy to accept. My favorite chapter in the story was Chapter 10 where Jeff finds Lora's diary in the hallway and reads it, McKeever's skill at portraying a teenage girl's fears and insecurities made me connect with Lora and her words resonated with me as much as it had Jeff. Scott's story was one I found the most interesting, he like most teenagers in a small town had dreams of escaping his surroundings only to be tied down by one responsibility or another and haunted by memories of the one who got away. There are times when The Waiting Place felt like Kevin Smith's Clerks set in high school, a fact even the author responds to in a sole letters page, but if anything it's a melding of Smith's Clerks and perhaps his best work Chasing Amy. But this is a story that should be seen as its own entity and is completely engrossing from start to finish and its epilogue, picking up seven years later, gave a good resolution to many of Northern Plain's mainstays but the absence of others was sorely felt.

Extras: A letters page and creator bios.

Written by: Sean McKeever

Art By: Brendon Friam (Chapters 1-6) and Mike Norton (Chapters 7-18)


Rudy T.
Staff Reviewer

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