Pullbox Reviews: Couri Vine – Sci Fi action for young readers

Girl. Nerd. Superhero.

Couri Vine has a debilitating lung defect and has to wear an embarrassing life-support helmet so that she can breathe. But when she makes a trip back to the planet Earth, this 11-year-old adventurer finds herself in some deep water. Maybe her helmet isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Couri returns home to Moon city and her quest for answers about the past leads her to the forbidden Near Side of the Moon, and to Moon Leader Todal’s evil plan.

Dun dun duuhhnnnnn…

Kids want to fit in. For years, that’s the sole extent of their ambition… and maybe build a snowman as big as a house, and throw a baseball so far that it breaks orbit. But that’s pretty much it. Sadly, young Couri Vine doesn’t have much chance of reaching any of those goals. For one, living on the Far Side of the Moon doesn’t give a girl much opportunity to see snow, much less build a snowman worth talking about. For another, with the Moon’s low gravity, being able to throw a baseball really far isn’t all that noteworthy. Finally, the life support helmet she’s forced to wear is a guarantee that in any crowd, Couri will stand out like… a young girl wearing a helmet that fully encases her head.

Yeah, I know… I ran out of cool metaphors. Moving on.

In the twenty years since humanity was forced to flee the planet Earth to escape a lethal Air Plague, there have been changes in our way of life. Thanks to the incredible ambition and foresight of Moon Leader Todal (all hail!), we’ve all but eliminated the evil scientific exploration and experimentation that resulted in the plague to begin with. Now, everyone serves a purpose in their niche, for the good of all and for the honor of Moon Leader Todal (all hail!).

When the confoundingly curious Couri finds an interesting map in one of her grandfather’s notebooks, she couldn’t begin to understand the events she was setting into motion, or the lengths to which she’d be going to set things right.

Creator/writer Vanessa Shealy has crafted a story in which to be curious is to be different, and to be different is to be made fun of (it’s a kids’ book… being made fun of is serious business). The world in which Couri (hmmm… short for “curious” maybe?) lives is doubly enclosed, with the people living inside a sealed habitat on the Moon, and with Couri herself closed off from everyone else within her life support helmet. You’d have to think that it would be a very isolated existence for a kid who simply wants to be a kid and to do kid-like things. But before you start hurling invectives at Shealy, condemning her for being so mean to a fictional child, don’t worry. For one thing, Couri is fictional. For another, it isn’t too long before Shealy starts pointing out all of the awesome things that come from our differences. Couri isn’t unfortunate… she’s extraordinary!

Where writer Vanessa Shealy has concocted a story full of people and interesting situations, artist Leah Lovise makes it shine! To be honest, looking at the first page, I wasn’t sure how interesting the artwork was going to be, as it involved a not-quite-to-scale full page view of Moon City… populated by stick people (in retrospect, I might’ve had an epiphany… Moon City looks like an ant farm from a distance!). My concerns were laid to rest when I turned the page and saw that where the far away shots might have lacked some details, Lovise’s real gift was in the close up character work. Particularly in the facial details. The middle distance work is just as detailed as it needs to be to convey the action and the tension of what’s going on in the story. Always mindful of the fact that Couri Vine is a children’s comic, it’s pretty amazing to see where Lovise devotes her attention. Every page has some eye-catching thing that pops out and draws the eye to it… just the thing to keep a younger reader involved and turning the page to see what happens next. There’s plenty of action in this series, but none of it comes across as overly dire. Sure there’s danger, but it’s always shown in a way that would have kids wondering “how’s Couri gonna get out of this one?” rather than “oh man, Couri is gonna die!”

At first glance, a more mature reader might fall under the assumption that Couri Vine would be a pretty simplistic read, intended as it is for young readers. And those presumptuous sophisticates would be right! Helloooo… it’s a kids’ comic. A comicbook for kids. This is a title to pick up if you’re a parent whose little person is interested in reading a comic about hijinks and adventure, with a relatable hero in Couri Vine. She’s the ultimate kids’ hero, loyal to her family and friends and determined to discover all that she can despite the obstacles and challenges in her path. The bonus here is that Couri Vine is a pretty painless read for any adults who might be reading along with their kids.

Reading is supposed to be fun. This comic could be a great way to put a young reader on the path to realizing that.

Final Score: 9

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