New York Five: beautifully told coming-of-age comic from Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly

Back in 2007/8, I was totally taken by DC's Minx imprint, which ran little digest-sized, girl-positive graphic novels aimed at young adults, primarily girls. They were smart, not in the least patronizing, and utterly charming. The best of the very good selection (which included such outstanding titles as Cecil Castellucci's PLAIN Janes/Janes in Love; Derek Kirk Kim's Good as Lily; and Andi Watson's Clubbing) was Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's New York Four, which told the story of four young women who meet as NYU freshmen, and whose lives are complicated by love, family, friendship, and school.

New York Four featured a perfect mix of engaging characters (think of Los Bros Hernandez's Love and Rockets Locas); fantastic, expressively inked characters; and a storyline that was a love-struck hymn to New York City -- echoing Brian Woods's masterwork DMZ. It was also incomplete, ending on a cliffhanger that was left hanging when DC folded up the Minx imprint.

For four years, I've been thinking about the New York Four, and wondering how their stories ended. Now I know. Four years later, DC's Vertigo has published The New York Five, the sequel (and conclusion?) to the original Minx title. I've just finished it and it was worth the wait. The characters from the original story return seasoned by their first semester, wiser and more gunshy, but still filled with the wild, reckless energy that made them so engaging in the first volume. They face more hardship, further cement their bonds, and sometimes dissolve them in moving scenes of betrayal, bravery and love.

It was a long wait, but it was worth it. I hope Vertigo publishes the two volumes between a single set of covers -- they'd make a lovely gift for any young person making sense of the world (and any adult who wanted to revisit the maelstrom of frightful first independence).

The New York Five



  1. New York Five is over-rated pandering crap that comic nerds can’t see through. It hardly passes the Bletchel test and when it does the content is inane and cliched. Anyone can crap out this awful coming of age college story and draw a bunch of attractive girls to act it out.

    This is like people thinking that suicide girls is actually a kind of cerebral pornography when it is just tattoo’d girls with large breasts (aka normal pornography). Comic nerds need to ask for more. Not this pandering tripe.

  2. I am a big fan of New York 4 and 5.  Brian Wood writes excellent female characters with real depth.  New York City (where I also live) really comes alive in the books, and the story line has real interpersonal depth.  I do not read a lot of comics, so I am not sure why comic nerds should hate this book, but I liked it a lot.  

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