The Avant-Guards are celebrating after their first victory. A week ago this team didn’t even exist and now they’re winners. While they’ve come together as a team, there are still a lot of emotions at play. Relationships past and present are bubbling up, making for some warm and occasionally awkward feelings.
Although this is a comic about a basketball team, we don’t spend a ton of time on the court. The characters and the relationships between each of them make up the main draw for The Avant-Guards. Artist Noah Hayes illustrates this beautifully, especially for the interactions between Olivia and Charlie. Early on they’re shown far apart and as the issue progresses, they get closer and closer. We see a literal distance between them, like a chasm they need to overcome. Over time they bridge that gap and sparks fly.
This fills the issue with emotional tension. Will they or won’t they? Hayes frames a sequence later in this chapter so that the two come together with a fire behind them, symbolizing their budding romance. It’s a little on the nose, but it works so well.
Colorist Rebecca Nalty captures this moment perfectly with the bright orange flame cutting through the cool blues of the night. A scene like this will easily put a smile on your face. These two are so freaking cute.
Olivia has been a fascinating character to watch. Her outward appearance obscures her vulnerabilities. Writer Carly Usdin gives us a glimpse into Olivia’s mind with her internal narration. She puts on such a peppy vibe, but suffers from the same kind of insecurities and anxieties that we all do.
A great example of this is when her and Charlie first touch. Letterer Ed Dukeshire shows Olivia’s internal narration in ever-increasing caption boxes. They all say “OMG” over and over again. They grow to the point where it feels like she’s going to explode.
The Avant-Guards were brought together as a rag-tag group of art students playing basketball. You might come in for this fun premise, but you’ll stay for these incredible characters and their compelling journeys. Olivia and Charlie are central to this, however each character gets some time to shine, adding to the overall narrative. This is a warm and beautiful book that’s perfect for anyone.