What do you do when your best friend is down in the dumps? The team is trying desperately to cheer up Liv, who is taking the Avant-Guards’ first and only loss really hard. She missed the last shot and feels responsible for losing. She thinks she let the team down. Of course, no one else feels that way. Sure, they’re bummed they lost, but no one is blaming her. That doesn’t make it any easier.
This is all about teamwork, both on and off the court. The group works together to play basketball and they do the same to lift up one of their own. What makes this even more troubling is that Liv is the heart and soul of the team. She’s been the driving force behind it from the beginning. Without her, there wouldn’t even be a team. For the first time, they have to figure out how to function without their biggest advocate.
Liv’s depression is perfectly captured early on by artist Noah Hayes. She’s shown laying face down in almost the same spot panel after panel, but in different locations. Somehow she’s moved from the locker room to the van to the dorm, but she’s still in the same position.
The Avant-Guards gives off this constant warm feeling. This team is full of love. Writer Carly Usdin highlights how much they care for one another. Even though they’re supposed to be the outcasts, you’d kill to be friends with them.
This book follows a similar trend to the other Boom! Box titles like Giant Days and Lumberjanes working with an ensemble cast while also giving each individual some time to shine. Some get a few choice lines while others get further character development. This is especially true for Charlie, where we get a look at her family life and a brief glimpse as to what she went through before coming to this school. While I’m already invested in these characters, this kind of stuff makes me even more interested.
This warm feeling extends to the colors as well. Eleonora Bruni crafts a welcoming environment, particularly when the whole team gets together to cheer up Liv with a movie marathon. Sure, this is just a dorm room with white walls, but you can feel Liv’s personality shine through in the posters on the wall, the colorful comforter on the bed, and the other items throughout.
Instead of sitting through each movie, we jump ahead just after its over. Letterer Ed Dukeshire uses a varsity-like font for these captions which fits the book well, not to mention the sports theme of the films. It’s a nice touch.
The Avant-Guards is always a fun read and this issue is no different. It’s welcoming and warm and it always leaves me with a smile on my face. It exemplifies the idea of teamwork in a super fun way. I couldn’t care less about basketball, but this book has me captivated.