Pullbox Reviews Juniper #1, an all-ages story of romping stomping adventure

Juniper is the only human girl on the planet of Nerth. Accompanied by her loyal robot pal, she embarks on an adventure to discover what happened to her vanished friend.  She accidentally becomes embroiled in a larger mystery.  A malevolent spirit has dark plans for the universe and juniper’s actions have made her a obstacle, an irritation, this evil being plans to eliminate.

Juniper, our titular protagonist for this fun outing from Scout Comics, is everything we need in a young hero. She’s honorable, courageous, curious, and in most cases able to reign in her less-than-honest robot companion Toby. The two may not be perfectly matched in temperament or morality, but they do make an entertaining duo.

The story starts with the two on the run from a robotic bee swarm, after payback for some filched robot honey (totally Toby’s fault). After their escape Juniper & Toby make their way to a mysterious mansion being tended to by Stanley, the living plant and caretaker for the estate in absence of his employer, Clarece. The master of the house has gone on to the Ivory Tower in search of treasure but hasn’t been heard from since.

Hijinks and peril ensue… the staples for any good adventure story.

Writers Nathan Tomsic and Georgiana Brown have put together a fast-moving tale of daring-do, suitable for a younger reading audience but not at all burdensome for adults. What Juniper lacks in complexity, it more than makes for in good times, reminiscent of The Goonies, Escape to Witch Mountain, Nim’s Island, and Jumanji. Tomsic and Brown keep things moving along for the easy to lose young audience, without taking the shortcuts in narrative that might put their older readers off.

Likewise, artwork of Lorenzo Colangeli serves the story by giving enough detail and energy for anyone lucky enough to have picked this book up. There’s a great sense of dynamic action on the page, and Colangeli seems to have fun playing with the more bizarre creature designs for a world where robots and talking plants are in charge. Colangeli leaves no panel untouched, with something of interest happening pretty much everywhere the eye might land. It’d be great if more artists could apply that approach to their work, regardless of the age demographic being targeted.

Have to give props to letterer Toben Racicot, while I’m handing out praise. Letterers don’t generally get enough credit for the work they do, which is a sticky wicket when you consider that the very best letterers are the ones whose work goes unnoticed. See, it isn’t a job that’s going to be all fancy fonts and bombastic sound effects. The fancier the fonts can make a comic tougher to read. I’m old. My eyes aren’t what they used to be and I don’t need to spend my day squinting at a book full of calligraphy. Racicot lets the script tell its own story, without throwing in excessive flash.

With the introductory issue available now, in digital and print formats and with variant covers for multiple tastes (personally, I think the VHS cover is really cool), this is a good comic to take a look at. And if you’re bothered by the idea of starting out a story and having to wait through several issues to get some closure, no worries. Scout Comics is including Juniper among their titles being offered in a full graphic novel edition after the release of issue one.

Final Score: 12/13

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