One Punch Reviews #80: Model Student
Where did all the Zuda Comics go? DC’s experiment in the world of digital comics was a little short-lived but it generated plenty of concepts due to its elimination-style format, where several creators would put out eight-page sample at a chance for landing a contract with DC Comics. Short answer: they were scattered to the winds of the internet, appearing in secluded far reaching corners. It’s a shame, because there were some great story ideas out there with some great-looking art. There was an image of a steely-eyed young man in a prep school uniform that caught my curiosity recently, for example, and I owed it to myself to follow up.
Model Student, by Jake Bell and Joe Bowen, was a Zuda entry in 2009 that didn’t make the final cut. Joe Bowen, though, couldn’t quite let go of the concept so he returned to the story last year.
The main character is Kevin Thorne. He’s a high school student who’s had problems keeping his rage under control. He’s been kicked out of many schools for fighting. One more strike, and he’s headed to Juvie. His last chance is Vendrell Academy, a stately-looking prep school where the students wear ties and fashionable blazers.
Things go badly more or less immediately. He’s immediately befriended by a nice chap named AJ. Unfortunately, the bullies at the lacrosse team refer to him as “Gay J“, and they immediately pick on him. Up until now Kevin has been able to keep his rage under control while the bullies pushed him around the school. When his friend’s getting the rough treatment, though, he snaps. He dispatches the tormentor with the skills of a master assassin.
He fully expects to be expelled. The school headmaster, though, as different ideas. He actually admires Kevin’s skills. He sees more value in the two of them as being allies. And thus Kevin becomes a sort of undercover agent, doing the Headmaster’s work in exchange for freedom. Along the way, he infiltrates the lacrosse team do discover any evidence of steroids and catches the eye of an interested young lady. He’s basically James Bond in high school. (Not to be confused with James Bond, Jr., who was totally lame.)
The pacing is a little slow. It’s been almost a year, and only about 36 pages of Model Student have been published. But what’s out there has been very solid. In a short amount of time, Kevin Thorne is established as a character you want to see kick ass and take names. Where did he manage to pick up so many Charles Bronson-like skills? Is the headmaster on the level, or is he secretly manipulating Kevin toward his own ends? Will Kevin ever learn to play lacrosse in time for the bid match with Gorman? So many questions that have answers that I’m really looking forward to. It’s really refreshing to be so invested in the main character that you’re on the edge of your seat with every page click.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5).