Boom Studios graphic novel Eight Days review

Eighty Days by Boom Studios is a formidable graphic novel that tackles the topics of war, oppression and loyalty through a flourishing queer romance.

As LGBTQ + representation continues to be a talking point in the comic book industry, BOOM! Studios reinforces its commitment to progressive storytelling with the release of Eighty days. Published under the company’s Archaia imprint, Eighty days is the first graphic novel by writer / artist AC Esguerra, winner of the PRISM Queer Press Grant. The book contains commentaries on war, immigration, oppression and romance, with a healthy dose of action. While the mainstream media still struggles with queer representation, Eighty days is heartfelt work that shows the value of supporting LGBTQ + stories.

Eighty days tells the story of Jay, Fix and Sable, three young people caught in the middle of a world war. Jay is a pilot who wants nothing more than to fly, so when Fix offers him a job that will allow him to take time in the sky, he gladly accepts. When it becomes clear that Fix can’t actually pay for the trip, Jay decides to use Fix as the navigator to pay off his debt. However, Jay discovers that Fix is ​​part of a revolutionary force that aims to eliminate the AVO, a governing body in charge of all air travel. Now Jay will have to decide if he wants to stay with his friend Sable and the organization they have sworn to protect or betray everything he has never known to continue his budding romance with Fix.

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Creator AC Esguerra divides Eighty days in four chapters, titled “Eighty Days”, “Black Box”, “Featherweight” and “20/20”. These chapters have unique storytelling properties that set them apart from each other. For example, “Eighty Days” has very little dialogue and is told primarily through the use of Jay’s logbook, with some annotations from Fix. This means that when readers are introduced to the lives of these characters, they see everything from Jay’s point of view. Then, the narrative changes to show Sable’s life in “Black Box,” which offers a full glimpse into life inside the AVO. The chapter contains tons of dialogue and rarely shows things from Sable’s perspective, providing a stark contrast to the story and enveloping Sable in mystery. The decision to distinguish each chapter with a different structure is a creative way for Esguerra to play with Eighty days‘story and it improves the story.

The art of Esguerra on Eighty days creates an immersive experience for readers. The book is represented entirely in black and white, combining the sensibilities of manga and pulp novels in a unique spectacle. Esguerra is building a dynamic world by Eighty days, which is often reminiscent of the war machines of the early 20th century. The technology seems functional and well-designed, without ever going too far into the fantasy. It bleeds in the action, as planes clash in aerial combat. In interviews, Esguerra has spoken of their love for theft and how it can be used as a metaphor for freedom. This attention pays off, as the picturesque landscapes and empty space show off the sheer beauty of flight. Esguerra matches this beauty in the expressive character designs of Jay, Fix, and Sable. Every action taken by the cast of Eighty days is supported by emotion. This is especially effective when Jay and Fix embrace their love for each other, as raw passion spurts off the page.

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Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Eighty days is that Esguerra isn’t afraid to explore war when it comes to gay romance. Regardless of medium or genre, there just aren’t many accounts that combine the horrors of combat with the internal conflict of approaching one’s sexuality. Esguerra could have used a queer subtext in Eighty days, but instead positioned the connection between Jay and Fix as the focal point of the story. By shedding light on this relationship, Esguerra shows readers that stories of love and war are even stronger through an LGBTQ + lens.

Eighty days is an incredible start for AC Esguerra. Jay, Fix and Sable’s story touches on many thought-provoking topics and comes to a rewarding conclusion. As the comic book industry continues to grapple with a story of homophobia that has touched millions of lives, uplifting stories like Eighty days give hope that a better future lies just beyond the horizon.

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