By Zack Quaintance — Burnouts #1 is essentially a hybrid of a B-movie and a teen comedy romp, in which there are glowing neon green aliens possessing people, green aliens that only a few outcast kids in a random suburban town can see...while they’re wasted. It is, essentially, a comic that piles trope on top of trope, hoping it will all add up to some new ground, while also doubling as the antithesis to the D.A.R.E. program (is that still a thing?).
And it kind of finds a little bit of new ground, especially toward the end of the book when we start to get a little glimpse at what’s going on. The creators do a good job of doling out the most perfunctory exposition when the action on the page is at its highest, kind of like putting medicine in with chocolate. It’s a great way to get information across, and it really works to serve the story in this book.
The pacing in this comic is also strong, in that it’s a quick read that hums right along. Part of that is the discretion they use in withholding information to make their story lean, and part of that is that there just doesn’t seem to be much deeper meaning to be found here, nor is there much characterization. In fact, I wasn’t entirely sure which character was the protagonist until about halfway through this issue (although to be fair, if I’d gone back and looked at the cover, it would have been pretty obvious that it was the nerdy kid in the center, Andy).
Also to be fair, my inability to lock into this comic might be an effect of my age. This premise, which puts being totally wasted at its center, is one I would have found exciting in high school. I’m a few years past that now—ahem—and I just kept thinking that the alternatives to partying (especially watching Star Trek and having pizza) sounded like a much better time. I suppose part of the point here is sober people (like me) are automatons, but isn’t that a little outdated in 2018? I live in California, where I can get weed delivered to me door in the next 15 minutes...by three different businesses. It’s hard to think of something that’s become so entrepreneurial as subversive or countercultural at all anymore.
That said, first issues are incredibly hard, and I think there’s enough capable storytelling in here to suggest it’s still possible to turn this title around.
Overall: A quick read, an alien invasion story by way of Stranger Things. Burnout #1 shows some potential toward its end once its premise becomes clear, but the characters are pretty ill-defined throughout. The whole thing relies heavily on tropes, and the characters are a little hazy, much like the weed smoke at the center of this premise. 6.0/10
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.