Review: Night Owl Society TPB

Imagine you are a lonely teen in high school whose only friend is a teacher who has been murdered. You know that the cops won’t investigate. And you are pretty sure you know who did it. What will you do?

For David Foxworth the problem is compounded by the fact that he knows the man behind the murder is his father. After a solo attempt to bring down his father fails spectacularly, David goes on a recruiting spree for loners at his Catholic High School to join his cause.

He finds a guy who is his muscle, a tech guru, a thief and a tactical planner. What do they teach in Texas Catholic High Schools these days? The book reads a lot like a script for the old TV show Leverage if it starred all the characters from the Archies comics. And in this allusion, Jughead is leading the Night Owl Society.

As in all the best heist stories, James Venhaus lays in unexpected reversals and allows all of these loners to start fitting together like a real team. While they start out with unexpected fails and attempts to turn reversals around, they eventually learn each other’s’ strengths and weaknesses. They know when each member needs help and when they can sit back and watch them handle things on their own.

If the strength of these collected books is the plot, the weakness is Pius Bak’s art. While the art is rough but serviceable in the first book, it seems to get much more rushed as the story goes along. Characters are so roughly sketched by the last book, that I had to reference previous panels just to figure out what was happening to whom. The cover work that Bak does shows that he has real skills when he has the time to put real effort into his work.

Venhaus’ storytelling narrowly outweighs the problems with the art. The story is exciting and fun and dramatic in all the right places. Like Kick-Ass, the characters are aware of superheroes and the need to team up and face evil and like in Kick-Ass some of them want code names. It is easy to see all the books that influence Night Owl Society. What is interesting is how Venhaus plays with those influences to tell an original story of his own.

Writer: James Venhaus
Art: Pius Bak
Lettering: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: IDW Publishing

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