In many ways, we’re living in the “age of the indie”, that is, a time in which independently published comics seem to be everywhere. Route 3 #2 from Terminus Media, an Atlanta-based publisher, reinforces the notion, in a good way.
It’s the story of Sean Anderson, a geeky kid dealing with your average teenage issues; girls, school, siblings, and parents. In the series’ first issue, we learn that Sean, much to the chagrin of his father and brother, is also grieving his dead mother – horrible circumstances to be sure – but a situation his family thinks that he (Sean) could and should be handling better.
While the theme of the story is no doubt very familiar, the comic does show a tremendous amount of awareness in terms of dialogue and current affairs.
There were some things in the first issue that I think were addressed and more precisely achieved in the second issue. For instance, in issue #1 we spend a great deal of time “feeling” out Sean and his environment, by way of drawn out conversations between characters. In the second issue, the time that was devoted to learning and telling us about character motivations and background is given to showing those details in more creative ways.
That said, the book is paced in a very deliberate way but that is a consequence of the story being told. If this was a mini-series, that would be a huge concern, personally, but all indications are that this is an ongoing series, so a little set-up time is necessary. In other words, don’t expect battles in every panel this issue, as we’re still figuring things out.
The focus on characters of color is also a nice touch, especially the strong relationship that Sean has with his father, and his overall family life in general. Often in comics, as with much entertainment, people of color tend to closely mimic popular stereotypes as opposed to being explored in nuanced ways that provoke thought instead of confirmation bias. In that I think the creators of Route 3 have gone out of their way to present characters that are complex, but at the same time compelling and accessible.
Route 3 is one of the better indie books I’ve come across in recent memory. Good story, great art and characters that aren’t cookie cutter-shaped representations.