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"Junior Braves of the Apocalypse: Volume 2 – Out of the Woods" Graphic Novel Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Oni Press

Junior Braves 00

Written by Greg Smith & Michael Tanner
Illustrated by Zach Lehner
Lettered by Crank!
2018, 194 Pages
Graphic novel released on August 8th, 2018

Review:

After a mysterious plague devastated their hometown, turning loved ones and neighbors into mutant zombies, the scouts of Troop 65 march on towards Seattle, hoping to find their remaining family members there. Along the way they find another Junior Braves troop who have taken charge of a shopping center and are ruling it with an iron fist. This is just one of their problems, as there's also a power-mad corporate office nearby that may have ties to the origin of the virus.

Junior Braves of the Apocalypse set the foundation with its first volume and greatly expands with this one. The personalities of each of the kids in Troop 65 are starting to really take shape, whereas before they were a little interchangeable. We get a better sense of their home life and how they see the world. Their different beliefs start to clash more and more, however they realize that they need to work together to get through this. They're joined by the Junior Braves code.

Junior Braves Volume 2 01Junior Braves Volume 2 02Junior Braves Volume 2 03
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There's a hint of the tail end of 28 Days Later in Out of the Woods. Remember that group of soldiers that were holed up in the castle and wanted to force themselves on the two female characters? This is like a teenage version of that. A rival Junior Braves troop, led by the de facto leader Damien (seriously, that should have been your first clue that something was up), is ruling this area and bossing around the old people that came here for shelter. The National Guard and police have left to handle bigger things, leaving these kids to pick up the mantle.

Everything about Damien makes me uneasy. Artist Zach Lehner's design for him makes me want to punch this kind in his smarmy little mouth, just below his fuzzy non-mustache. Yes, I just said I wanted to punch a child. If you read this book, you will totally understand and want to join in. Damien is a bully through and through, but we don't see just how villainous he is until the later chapters of the book. He's a jerk at first, then he practically turns into a younger version of the Governor from The Walking Dead.

I jumped ahead to this aspect of Out of the Woods, but there's a whole treacherous journey before the kids get there. This is a massive book, clocking in at almost 200 pages. It never feels like a drag either. There are no slow points, as writers Greg Smith and Michael Tanner keep the story moving at a nice pace. Any lulls are filled in with jokes as the kids' personalities are fleshed out.

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The monsters in Junior Braves of the Apocalypse are not quite zombies, but they're certainly not human. To make another comparison to 28 Days Later, they're more akin to the infected seen there. They're fast and deadly but somewhat mindless, so they're easy to maneuver around. Some have been more changed than others. Where a few have strange growths, making them more unsettling and monstrous, others are like a possessed normal person. The hard part for the Junior Braves is coming to grips with the fact that these were once people.

The creators of Junior Braves of the Apocalypse summed it up nicely on a recent episode of Funny Book Splatter. This is a book for kids that want to read The Walking Dead, but aren't quite ready for it. It deals with mature themes and life and death situations, but through a young adult lens. It's not dumbed down for a younger audience. Instead, Junior Braves of the Apocalypse handles the story with the gravitas it deserves, treating these elements seriously while still having some fun.

Grades:

Story: Fourandahalfstars Junior Braves Vol 2 Cover
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Junior Braves Vol 2 Cover
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Junior Braves Vol 2 Cover
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Junior Braves Vol 2 Cover
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Art: Fourandahalfstars
Overall: Fourandahalfstars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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