b.b. free broadcasts her underground radio show from her remote swamp community, and she has no idea she’s actually the chosen one. It’s been over a hundred years since the Plague That Ate Greed wiped out half the population, and it’s the only world that b.b. has ever known. But when b.b. rebels against her overbearing father, she realizes that everything she believes in could be a lie. On the run from her own family, b.b. will learn the truth about the world she lives in, and about the power she never knew she had.
Writer Gabby Rivera and debuting artist Royal Dunlap present an adventure for fans of Blackbird and “mysterious destiny” heroic fiction like Naomi about finding your family when the whole world is against you.
In b.b. free #1, it’s two hundred something years in the future, and it’s been a century since a plague wiped out half the US population. b.b. free is a kid in the Florida “islands,” about to turn 15, which, in this culture, means she has the option of going off on this new culture’s version of Rumschpringe, leaving her family home to go off, explore, and find herself.
Unfortunately for her, b.b.’s father is terribly old fashioned and domineering, which means he’s dead set against the idea, preferring that young b.b. stay and help out with the family business instead.
Gabby Rivera takes on a whole lot in this series opener. Antiquated patriarchal social norms and ableist ideals get challenged. There’s a magic alligator friend, which, I mean, let’s be honest, if that’s all I knew about this book, would have already sold me on reading a chapter or six. And though we don’t really see it yet, we’re promised all kinds of messianic themes. Sounds like a lot, but the script flows ridiculously easily. There’s a lot of Rivera in her lead character, and it comes through.
Art by newcomer Royal A. Dunlap is a brilliant fit. One of my biggest annoyances with comics that feature kids is when artists depicts children as perfect little scaled-down replica adults. Fully the same proportions and ambulation, just 62% the size. That’s not how it works. Dunlap’s kids don’t look like tiny adults. They capture the goofiness and awkwardness of puberty and growth spurts and disproportionate body parts, and the uniqueness of each kid’s personal journey with all the fun stuff.
b.b. free is off to a fantastic start. This first chapter drops you right into the middle of a whole new post plague society, with new rules and societal norms and weird futuristic tech, but the whole thing feels oddly familiar. This is one of the most complete series openers I’ve read in a minute.
b.b. free #1 from BOOM! Box, released 06 November 2019. Written/created by Gabby Rivera, art/cover by Royal Dunlap, letters by Jim Campbell, variant cover by Natacha Bustos, unlocked variant cover by Brittney Williams, designed by Grace Park, logo by Michelle Ankley, associated editor Sophie Philips-Roberts, editor Shannon Watters, with special thanks to Tamara Morgan.