On the surface, ‘Bro-D Can’t Be Broken’ seems like a simple story: a hero must stop a villain from getting from Point A to Point B and causing devastating destruction. It is, therefore, rather exhilarating when you actually dive in and see the wonderful richness and detail that writer/artist Ben Humeniuk brings to this world and story, all within the span of this short graphic novella. This is accomplished through an efficiency of storytelling apparent from the very beginning, where we learn that, in the late 21st-century, humanity is finally starting to get their act together. Climate change, energy crises, and border disputes are being addressed, and hope is on the rise.
But as modern problems are being tackled, old obstacles return in the form of Gods that seem to be ripped straight out of folklore and aren’t happy with the progress society is making. Luckily, there are heroes waiting in the wings to push back these old Gods, one of which is Bro-D (Brody), an almost indestructible teenager who is sent into fray with his tactical guidance partner, M-Ander. Brody is instantly likable for some of the same reasons characters like Spider-Man have been iconic for so long. He is a selfless individual, willing to put his body on the line to save those around him. But he also has romantic feelings for ‘Ander, and is torn between what he has to do to save the one versus saving the many.
This graphic novella has the feel of a cartoon that I would have raced home from school to watch as a kid, and let’s be honest, would still watch every episode of today. That is due to the art just as much as the story. There is a pop sensibility combined with some incredible line work that provides a richly textured atmosphere. There is a ton of action here, and it is all staged clearly and kinetically. The villain, Bregghammer, is an imposing and legitimately menacing figure on the page, and the battle between him and Brody never loses its tension. There is also a flashback sequence that uses very soft coloring and is very successful in conveying the sense of memory.
This is labeled as a young adult story, but I firmly believe people of all ages would find enjoyment in this. Resilience in the face of terrifying odds is something we see time and time again in storytelling because it is something that we need to see. The world is so captivating that I hope Ben Humeniuk returns to it at some point. Bro-D Can’t Be Broken makes a point in illustrating that progress comes at a cost, but that it is always something worth fighting for. That is a theme that we can all benefit from internalizing. And to have that lofty notion alongside seeing a teenage superhero and a brutish deity beat the snot out of each other for pages upon pages is simply a good time.