From Emma Vieceli and Malin Rydén. Published by Soaring Penguin Press. This is a sequel to Breaks Volume One, published in 2017. A copy of this was provided for review.
Ian and Cortland are all too aware that the bubble they’ve made for themselves can’t last. Shifting relationships and tested friendships may be the least of their worries, though, as they learn more about each other and the pasts they’d rather leave behind. Familial legacy, fragile ambition and potentially devastating secrets; their budding relationship is going to need a stronger foundation than secrecy if they want to face what life has in store for them together. Bringing the world of LGBT young adult fiction into the realm of comic books, and collecting the second arc of the acclaimed weekly web series (2017-2019), Breaks is the story of two young men discovering who they were, who they are, and who they will become. It’s a love story…but a bit broken.
I can honestly say I’ve never read a comic book like this, and that is a mistake I need to continue correcting. Breaks is an incredible love story between two boys on the cusp of becoming men. They have to deal with this new relationship, graduating high school, and both Ian and Cortland have heartbreaking problems with their families. Nothing in their lives is easy, except for their feelings for each other. It might be different, scary, some might be against it – but when there is so much to fight against in the world, why fight something that feels so right?
Cort has had to fight for everything. His family has been torn apart. He has made mistakes solving problems with his fists. His outward strength hides so much pain and insecurity. Ian is glib, athletic, and the kind of friend that constantly upsets you but is just so damn charming he falls into forgiveness. While Cortland hits his problems, Ian laughs them off but privately hurts just the same.
I immediately fell into every bit of this story and every character as if they were in my high school class. 17 into 18 is one of the most difficult years of anyone’s life. No one teaches any of us how to be an adult, we’re just expected to be one after that birthday. What if things aren’t easy though? No family to rely on. Ghosts from the past. Other voices, even some close to you, saying who you love is wrong. This is all of the teenage angst timelessness of Archie Comics but with the gravity of a world full of those who hate and fear them.
Such a heavy (but also in the happy times, really fun) story is complimented with art that mirrors the mood. Heavy lines. Light lines. Up close. Give them space. The art moves and breaths with both Ian and Cort. The story becomes engrossing and thank God I’m reading this as a collection because there’s no way I could wait for the next chapter. In fact, I’m upset I didn’t get to read Volume 1 and Volume 3 doesn’t exist yet. Thankfully, Breaks can be found digitally on the WebToons site with new installments over HERE.
Now here’s the kicker – and why I’m saying it. I identify as straight and always have. I’ve read comics for over 30 years. Raised Catholic. All things that a certain segment of comic book fans identify as and spew hate against comics like Breaks. And that’s absolutely ridiculous. This is a coming of age tale with universal problems, universal experiences, and universal love. I could empathize with everything Ian and Cortland were feeling and hoping for the best with each page turn. I experienced writing and art that is exactly what comics need to bring this format into new hands. I read a book that punches away any doubt that representation matters. And not to put too much pressure on the creators, I think this is a book that could potentially save lives at every high school library that includes it on the shelves. Life can knock you down, but love is always there to help you get back up.
Highly recommended book. Please keep your eyes out for both Emma Vieceli and Malin Ryden, and more from Soaring Penguin Press.