If you’re a regular reader of comics, Broken Souls Ballad #1 will be instantly familiar: it features a 1980s setting and a group of orphans who have mysterious powers. Do we really need another story that has these elements? Well, I chose to read it, so maybe that says more about me than the creative team’s choices. Nonetheless, I’m a sucker for music comics, and a title with “Ballad” in it has me instantly intrigued.
In this first issue, we are introduced to two different characters who suffer from a variety of mental (and physical) abnormalities. The first third of the comic focuses on 16-year-old Markus Bowers, whose adoptive father is an abusive drunk. The middle portion centers on Tom Pemberton, who isn’t the most popular kid but at least has a good friend group. And the final portion returns to Markus. Sprinkled throughout the issue, there are flashbacks to where the children grew up, but we don’t get much more than kids standing in a row with bags on their heads.
And this is my big complaint with this first issue: so many questions remain. Did the kids grow up being experimented on? Were they abnormal from birth? Who is playing the piano? What does the song have to do with anything? How are the two boys who live in totally different states connected? Are they going to come together at all? So, yeah … I have some questions.
That said, Broken Souls Ballad #1 is a well-designed comic that had me eagerly turning page after page. The two lead characters are compelling, and the writing has a nice fluidity to it. The art is full of purples and blues and does a really nice job of depicting some difficult concepts. I especially appreciated the scene featuring Tom’s panic attack. As someone with chronic anxiety, it was absolutely accurate and heartbreaking.
First issues are tough, and while I’m not convinced that all of my questions are going to be answered any time soon, the creative team’s skills will bring me back to at least check out the second issue.