By Monty Nero and Yishan Li
Writer: Monty Nero
Art: Yishan Li
Lettering: Yishan Li and Monty Nero
Carlton, Delphine, Jamelia, Hunter, Sunny, Cai, and Minerva: some of them know each other, some of them are related to each other, some of them hate each other. But all of them will have to learn to work together. Better a reluctant team of heroes than no heroes at all— and nothing brings people together like fighting aliens and solving mysteries.
At times self-referential, the story includes a reference that in the story’s universe, this story was turned into a comic of the same name— the plot switches between past, present, and future, with past and future aspects being told by an omniscient narrator. The story jumps right into the plot, relying on the narrator to fill the reader in on the setting and characters before traveling back in time to explain a bit more of what’s going on. But not too much of what’s going on— you can’t spoil the entire adventure in the first issue. No, there’s still plenty of questions that need to be answered: why were these seven people chosen? Will they become heroes or villains? Will they actually get their act together or crack under the pressure of newfound heroism? Perhaps most importantly, where did Carlton’s son Teddy disappear to all those years ago, and can he be rescued?
Setting the story at a comic book convention was a great idea. A comic convention is probably one of the best places for random people to get superpowers. If any member of the population is going to have a handle on the caped crusader gig it’s a comic book fan. And if they’re cosplaying, which all of the main characters were, they’ve already got their outfit sorted. Or they’ll at least have the crafting skills to make a new outfit.
The art was the weakest part of this issue. It’s not overly detailed, but the clean linework and well chosen color palettes compensate for that. What causes the biggest problem with the art is the characters themselves. While there’s characters of different races/ethnicities, there’s not a lot of variety in their body types which really stands out in the female main characters. Despite being older than Cai, Jamelia, and Delphine, Minerva has the same slender body type and youthful complexion. One could switch all of their bodies and the only real difference would be their hair and skin colors. In an era of media where it’s expected to see diversity on the page and on the screen this “sameness” stands out. As the characters develop their personalities will hopefully make them feel more different from each other.
These problems don’t take away too much from the story; overall, Frenemies #1 is a fun and enjoyable read that introduces a plot and characters with a lot of potential. And ending the issue with a cliffhanger was a clever choice because now all one can do is wait in anticipation for issue #2.