We know a bit about Liv and Charlie in The Avant-Guards and for good reason. Their budding relationship is a driving force in the series. The rest of the team has just as much going on. The Avant-Guards #5 turns the spotlight on Jay, a character that is very much uncomfortable with attention, but who has a lot to offer.
Jay is a quiet warrior, always supportive of the team, but not speaking up all that much. They’ve got a big moment coming up as their work is debuting at an art show. Their partner, Tyler is even flying in for it. Although Jay doesn’t express much of their feelings outwardly, there’s a lot going on inside.
Writer Carly Usdin instantly gets to the heart of Jay’s personality with some touching internal narration. Jay cares so much for their friends, but anxiety keeps them somewhat reserved. What is most interesting is not how Jay is paralyzed by this stress, but how they overcome it. They dig down deep to find the strength to continue.
Jay’s internal narration is expressed in light blue caption boxes. Letterer Ed Dukeshire mirrors Jay’s calm disposition with these boxes. They’re always cool and collected.
This also comes through in Noah Hayes’ artwork. Jay has a near permanent calm demeanor, despite what we know is going on under the surface. They draw strength from within and from Tyler. We only see this relationship for a few pages, but it’s instantly adorable. They’re so perfect for each other and you get that sense right away.
This dovetails nicely into Liv and Charlie’s will-they / won’t-they relationship. They see how well Jay and Tyler work together and realize what they might have if they give it a chance, but they’re both afraid, albeit of different things. Although Jay is the main focus of this issue, we get a chunk of development with these two.
The tone of The Avant-Guards #5 changes when Tyler appears. Colorist Rebecca Nalty transforms the otherwise normal looking setting with an explosion of color. This also coincides with Jay’s show, so it’s this great synergy between the artwork on display and the love Jay feels for their partner.
It’s impossible to read The Avant-Guards without a smile on your face. It’s consistently sweet and adorable, expressing true emotion from real characters. This issue didn’t feature much in the way of basketball and that’s totally fine. That’s not why I’m reading The Avant-Guards. I’m reading it because of the characters and their compelling personalities. Basketball is just the reason they all get together.