Review: FLAVOR #1

FLAVOR #1
Written by Joseph Keatinge
Art by Wook Jin Clark, Tamra Bonvillain, Ariana Maher
Culinary Consulting by Ali Bouzari
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: May 16, 2018

What a breath of fresh air.

Every so often, if a reader is lucky, a comic will take them completely by surprise. I started reading Flavor #1 with absolutely no idea of what to expect other than seeing that the the comic featured a “culinary consultant” and having some knowledge of the creative team. What I found within was a delightful tale with expressive, vibrant characters and a hook at the end that took me from “entertained” to “wowed”.

Keatinge and Clark have built an accessible world for readers in Flavor and the team does a good job of explaining how this world works in this opening issue. They take readers through the main cast of characters, and how food and cooking are not just an indulgence or pastime in this world. Flavor’s protagonist, Xoo, is an underage chef keeping the family trade alive, and she explodes from every panel she appears in. Between Clark’s design, Bonvillain’s colouring and Keatinge’s dialogue, Xoo is a live wire with a great personality that makes this comic soar. The rest of the cast are built to be solid foils for her big attitude, and the loyal Buster gave me a smile with every page he showed up on. Their relationship is already a sweet one, even though this story has just begun.

This issue is packed with a lot of material, because there is quite a bit to set up. That said, the story moves at a brisk pace and Clark uses interesting layouts and expressive pencils to keep things light. Even when there are a lot of words on the page, Keatinge never drowns the reader in exposition, and the dialogue flows in a very conversational manner. Bonvillain’s colours keep the story light and bright, which helps keep things interesting as well. While readers are given a lot of information in this first issue, there is obviously a lot more to dig into, with the final splash page opening up a whole new dynamic I didn’t see coming.

Ali Bouzari’s involvement as “culinary consultant” is particularly interesting, as you don’t often see this in comics. It is certainly welcomed, and gives the issue a more realistic feel, from a cooking perspective. When food is involved, I felt the same passion as if I was watching Chef’s Table and listening to a Master Chef talk about ingredients. Food is not just a back drop for a different story here: it is a key component of Flavor, which I find extremely exciting and original.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I really liked this comic. Flavor #1 creates a world that is fresh and exciting, filled with questions and dynamic characters. This is definitely a gem you don’t want to miss out on.

The Verdict: 10/10

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