Bolero opens with an unapologetically queer romance. You see the blossoming adolescent love grow and mature in just a few pages. Wyatt Kennedy effortlessly tells this tale with nuance and grit. Kennedy seamlessly establishes this relationship as queer in a casual manner. You then soon realize that this lovely story is a prologue; A wistful flashback into our protagonist’s youth. The book quickly turns brutally adult with its themes and its tone. We see the protagonist, Devyn “Dagger” Dagny, as she is today. Damaged. Broke. On her own out of college. No real direction. All-too-relatable. Kennedy captures the weight of that emotional albatross with style and care. We see Devyn still reeling from her break up with Natasha, as shown in that painfully familiar scene of seeing your ex in public.
You can feel the emotion all through Luana Vecchio’s art. The character’s expressions are strikingly realistic, the use of light is awe-inspiring and emotional, and the coloring reflects the panel’s mood perfectly. The diversity of scenes in just one issue speaks to her skill as an artist. Kennedy’s writing with Vecchio’s art is a powerful combination that will hit you where it hurts.
My one complaint with this issue is what happens next. Devyn relapses. A man at the bar offers to buy her a drink, and she accepts emphatically. Now my problem is not with the relapse itself. That is a real part of the recovery process and is an important story to tell. I just wish it was handled with a bit more care from Devyn herself and her best friend, Ami. It seemed like they didn’t take it as seriously as relapse can be. I don’t know these characters very well, and we are only one issue in, so I remain hopeful that the team will do something really great and representational with Devyn and her road to recovery.
This is where the tone shifts. It goes from excruciatingly relatable to very curious. One moment we are in the trenches with Devyn, and then, suddenly, the story takes a mystical turn. We are introduced to Capgras, the cutest inter-dimensional cat you’ve ever seen. The cat explains the process of a new life for her, and we are along for the ride. This shift comes far out of left field, but Kennedy does so in a way that doesn’t feel jarring or too confusing. Vecchio puts us right in Devyn’s shoes as she faces an opportunity many of us wish we had. Devyn goes from lost, to confused, to scared, and the story drags the reader along with her. In the end, Devyn decides to “hop” into a new life.
I am very excited to see where this story goes. Natasha has been established as a trans woman, so seeing Devyn deal with being in a body that she doesn’t feel is hers will be a fascinating experience. While Wyatt Kennedy’s storytelling seemed a bit rushed in the opening, the middle and end were blended seamlessly through the tone shift and left me wanting more. If the rest of the story is consistent with the talent in this first issue, Bolero is sure to be a wonderful book that critics and readers alike will fall in love with.