Writer: Stephanie Salyers, Dylan Mulick
Artist: Leila Leiz
Colourist: Thomas Chu
Letterer: Eugenio Perez Jr.
Editor: David Forrest
Publisher: 451 Media
A review by Amelia Wellman
Retellings of classic stories are all the rage. All the better if they’re violent, dark, and seriously twisted. NVRLND is the next retelling to do all of the above and do it pretty damn well. This modern, but just as magical, retelling of Peter Pan is being pitched as a story for anyone who never wants to give up, but may not live long enough to have a chance. This isn’t the Peter Pan that’s second star on the right, and straight on till morning.
NVRLND is sex, drug, and punk fuelled. Set in present day Hollywood, wallflower turned wild child Wendy Darling turns to the rave scene of the underground club NVRLND and falls for Peter, the lead singer of the band The Lost Boys. Meanwhile, Peter is mixed up with a tattoo artist who preys on the young by ‘hooking’ them on a designer drug known as Pixie Dust.
Classic stories retold in a new way run the risk of coming off as pretty… terrible, for lack of a nicer word. Sometimes it comes down to the wrong story the writer is trying to infuse with a modern, gritty atmosphere. But with NVRLND, it’s so far, so good and definitely an idea I’m surprised hasn’t been broached before. Peter is the lead singer in an underground rave band? There’s no better way to keep the smug little shit from growing up than to give him the fame, money, and sexual appeal of a rock star! And to have Hook as a pervy, hipster tattoo artist that goes after under-eighteen girls is a brilliant way to modernize the character’s villainy. As to why he goes after the girls that he does has yet to be revealed, but the guy has a curly moustache! It’s all very nefarious!
Besides Hook and Peter, we’re also introduced to Wendy, Tiger Lily, and get a brief glimpse at Tinkerbell. Wendy is a good girl gone bad, though there’s no hint yet as to why. Tiger Lily is a fierce fourteen year old Mexican girl. And Tinkerbell isn’t a fairy. She still remains silent, jealous, and wears her hair piled on top of her head, so it’s a Tink that’s easily the most true to the original character. While everyone seems to be acting true to character/like Hollywood teenagers to varying degrees, there are one or two passages that come off a little like people that aren’t modern teenagers trying their damnedest to come off as such. Peter calling Hook a ‘punk ass bitch’ is the most glaring one. I’m thinking that this will become less of a problem as the creators get to know their own characters and smooth down their rough edges.
While I loved the story, I’m torn on the art. My biggest complaint is that none of the characters are consistently beautiful, which is surprising because Leiz has drawn some very beautiful art. I noticed it most on Tiger, whose very expressive face drew the most attention throughout the panels she was featured in. It’s not a deal breaker as there is still beauty in the comic. The style is realistic with good proportions and expressive faces. Close up shots are highly detailed while wide shots are more basic and sparse. Chu’s bright and varied colour scheme ties it all together nicely.
Buy it! I love the idea behind NVRLND #1 and I’m hoping it goes to the places I’m currently fanfiction-ing in my own mind! C’mon, issue one opens with Peter boning a girl on a pinball machine! The story pretty much, 100% promises to be a teenage sex romp through drugs and rock and roll, all with the familiar archetypes of Peter Pan to fall back on. It gives me more than enough happy thoughts to fly on!