Review: Heavy Vinyl #4

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
November 29th, 2017

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

Review: Heavy Vinyl #4
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Review of: Heavy Vinyl #4
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Rating:
4
On November 29, 2017
Last modified:November 29, 2017

Summary:

The narrative picks up and speeds through a lot of unnecessary new story threads but the art is as lyrical as ever and this is a fitting end to an engaging and inclusive series.

Review of: Heavy Vinyl #4
Price:
Fast Paced

Reviewed by:
Rating:

4
On November 29, 2017
Last modified:November 29, 2017

Summary:

The narrative picks up and speeds through a lot of unnecessary new story threads but the art is as lyrical as ever and this is a fitting end to an engaging and inclusive series.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Heavy Vinyl (formerly Hi Fi Fight Club) reaches its conclusion with an action packed, exposition heavy issue and our contributor, Darryll Robson, takes a look at whats in store.

The final part of this four issue mini-series from Boom! Studios hits the shelves this week. Hopefully the name change will not confuse any potential buyers, as that is the only thing that has changed about this exciting, 90's set Buffy-esq story.  The story takes leaps forward after the previous issues and the pacing is turned up several notches, but not quite to eleven.

Synopsis

Each member of the Hi Fi Fight Club make their excuses and their getaway so that the team can head in to New York. The mission: track down Rosie and save the day.

Chris finds herself getting closer and closer to Mags but she is still held back by her nerves and self-doubt.  But things are due to change, in the heat of the moment anything is possible.

A spot of breaking and entering leads to startling discovers, evil conspiracies and plenty of secrets uncovered.

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It’s all go for the Hi Fi Fight Club but will the music be over or will it play all night long?

Credit: Boom! Studios

Analysis

Despite operating under the new title of Heavy Vinyl, Carly Usdin and co haven’t made any sweeping changes to the comic or narrative. The cast, story and art are all the same.

The opening of this final issue illustrates Usdin’s commitment to character as the first five pages each feature one of the central cast making their preparations to skip their usual day and head into New York. They act as a reminder of who the characters are but in each case these pages tell the reader something new. Their home lives haven’t been covered previously, except for Chris’, but here in the final issue Usdin focuses attention on the families for a number of different reasons. Each relationship gives the reader a deeper insight into each of the characters but it also highlights the risk that they are taking by being a part of the ‘fight club’. This isn’t a collection of loners with no-one in their lives, they each have family and love ones.

This emphasis on family relationships is the major driving force behind the narrative in this issue. Once outside of their homes, the women create another family, one that must work together to face various dangers. Where as in previous issues there has been a tension between some of the characters, especially where the new girl Chirs has been concerned, as the narrative heads towards its conclusion the comic goes out of its way to show acceptance and inclusion. At various points throughout the women work as one and have each other’s backs. The family even grows and becomes a much bigger network, similar to what happened to the Slayers at the end of Buffy.

The characters and companionships blossom with each page and overall this produces a heart-warming tale of high jinks. However, where the comic does come a little unstuck is with the speed at which the story reaches its conclusion. Over the previous months Chris has slowly nudged her way into the Hi Fi Fight Club and become embroiled in an intriguing missing person mystery. If the ending was simply the discovery of Rosie, the Stegosour singer, and the uncovering of a simple kidnapping plot then the comic may have pulled it off. Unfortunately, at about the halfway mark there is a massive plot dump into the narrative which involves music conspiracies, sci-fi technology and some last minute Star Trek-esq problem solving. So much of this seems rushed, as if it was added with the intention of leading into the next story arc, but it is liable to pull the reader out of the story entirely.

Isn’t it enough that a group of young women can solve a mystery and help out one of their music idols? That was the story for the first three issues and Chris was the reader’s way into this. It worked brilliantly. Chris was, and still is, a wonderfully relatable character but her experience is drowned by the sudden weight of the story. She is suddenly side lined and even an interjection into the exposition is forced, making the character look cheesy. Which is definitely unfair to Chris and Usdin’s writing based on the rest of the series.

Credit: Boom! Studios

The Art work is not affected by any of this though which is a blessing.  Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores continue to have a Manga-esq simplicity to their lines and panels. Each page tells a story, especially in the opening, and there is youthful energy pulsating from the panels. The characters are very physically emotive with a number of panels expressing affection through the use of body contact. In most cases it’s very simple, a peck on the cheek or the quick grab of a hand, but the emotional impact is often much larger, and in some cases, quite a surprise.

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Part of the charm, and definitely one of the main contributors to the atmosphere, is the vibrant colour pallet employed by Rebecca Nalty, Kieran Quigley and Walter Baiamonte. Bold changes in the background colours emphasis the gesture or action in the foreground, making those panels stand out on the page and drawing the reader’s attention to that one moment more than the others. For example, on the second page when the background alters from vibrant blue to a mottled pink, the panel depicting the hand holding is the one that sticks with the reader. It is a panel that highlights the couples’ relationship and exactly who has the upper hand. By making it a different background colour Nalty makes sure that this point is expressed to the reader over everything else on the page. Another great example of this is later, on the train. The background for most of the panels feature the train windows and the clear blue sky beyond, however one panel has the same mottled pink. This is where Mags rests her head on Chris’ shoulder and there is a moment of silence between the two. A dynamic has changed in their friendship and this is the moment when that happens so the moment is punctuated with a change in background colour.

This artistic attention to detail makes Heavy Vinyl a worthy read, despite the wobble in narrative. It’s enjoyable, touching and contains the heart of a great mystery adventure comic. As a whole, Heavy Vinyl nee Hi Fi Fight Club works brilliantly at telling a story about nervousness and acceptance within a group. As an opening salvo for an ongoing it hits all the right spots and hopefully that means that it will be returning for a follow up sometime soon in the new year.

 Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson, but he does remember to write more about comics on his website comiccutdown.weebly.com

Heavy Vinyl #4

  • 4

Fast Paced

The narrative picks up and speeds through a lot of unnecessary new story threads but the art is as lyrical as ever and this is a fitting end to an engaging and inclusive series.

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