Review: The New York Five

The New York Five

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I was prepared to write off all of the Minx line before I read The New York Four — finally, there was a book in this imprint I felt like teenage girls would actually want to read. Of course, ultimately, it didn’t matter since DC Comics dropped the Minx imprint.

But I was happy to see that The New York Five found a home in the Vertigo line. Sure, it was maybe a little outside of the typical Vertigo title — there isn’t an abundance of sex or violence here — but as far as comics that are for more than usual audiences, it fit right in.

I bought The New York Five happily. I want more comics like this, after all.

Well, maybe not exactly like this.

Picking up where The New York Four left off, our heroines Lona, Merissa, Ren and Riley are still dealing with the repercussions of their first semester, and they’re now all sharing an apartment. More or less. Lona is still coping with her new reality and who she is in New York; Merissa has family to deal with; Ren is a bit too much of a free spirit; and Riley is trying to make up with her estranged sister.

It’s a lot of drama and purposefully so. But I’d say it’s almost too much drama, especially once street kid Olive (the fifth in the New York “five”) is thrown into the mix. If you haven’t read the first book, you aren’t going to get to know these girls much at all — in writer Bryan Wood’s hands, they are broadly drawn character types. I wanted to get to know them, but that the whole point of this series was that the characters withdrew from each other, it was almost impossible to do so.

Ryan Kelly’s New York still feels like a real place, however, and his art gives these character life. They are still pouty lips and tousled hair, but their fashionable glamor is part of the reason why The New York Five works when it does — it feels aspirational. Even if you don’t want to be these characters, you easily admire them.

Still, whereas I enjoyed the intimate drama of The New York Four, The New York Five just seemed to pull in too many directions at once. I feel like it tried to be too big and lost sight of the power of just telling the stories of these four young women out on their own for the first time. Maybe if it had been five issues instead of four, I would’ve been happier with it.

But for all my complaints, I’d still pick up The New York Six if that ends up happening. Even if I wasn’t 100 percent sold on this one, I still want more like it to exist. I will still buy them. Clearly, for all my complaints about The New York Five, I’m still completely sold on it.

(This review is obviously based on the four issues of the limited series — you know, since the collected version isn’t out yet. You can still, more the likely, pick up the individual issues at better comic book stores. If you want it, I encourage you to do that, but I will happily take the few cents you would send my way with the pre-order of the collection.)

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