The Backstagers 2018 Valentine’s Intermission #1
Publisher: Boom! Box
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Rian Sygh
Review by Laura Forsey
It’s hard to be alone on Valentine’s Day. Even if, like Beckett, you think it’s “fake, sappy lovey dovey junk,” seeing your friends in happy, healthy romances while you’re alone can hurt. The Backstagers 2018 Valentine’s Intermission #1 is all about relationships. But then, every story is ultimately about relationships. What makes this comic unique is how many different types of relationships are part of the Backstagers’ lives.
This story takes place sometime after the events of the 8-issue original run of The Backstagers, which means that Jory and Hunter are an established couple. In the first mini-comic, “Finding The One,” Jory stresses over which card to give Hunter to perfectly express his feelings, but there’s no doubt at all about how much they like each other. The quintessential high school sweethearts are literally surrounded by rose petals on the first page, before Beckett interrupts them. Anyone who has experienced their first love can remember how intense and emotional it feels, and therefore enjoy watching Jory and Hunter navigating this stage of their relationship. The Backstagers has been an LGBT-positive comic from the start, but it’s still wonderful to see a gay relationship portrayed as sweetly and matter-of-factly as Aziz’s new relationship with Adrienne from the girl’s school. The way Tynion and Sygh handle Beckett’s crush is also commendable. Although Beckett believes that Bailey would prefer another boy over him, it’s always framed as a question of how “cool” the other boy is–“He can ride a motorcycle and a horse!”–rather than a problem with Beckett’s gender identity.
While the story is mostly about romance, whether blossoming, unrequited, or lost, The Backstagers 2018 Valentine’s Intermission #1 also recognizes how important platonic relationships are. Beckett is maybe just as hurt by Aziz ditching their annual movie marathon to go to the dance with his new girlfriend, as he is by Bailey not returning his feelings. Sasha’s love for and confidence in his friends manages to shine through a candy-induced sugar coma. And when Beckett needs it most, Mr. Rample reminds him that there are worse things than feeling too much.
Sometimes stories like this focus too much on finding or keeping a romantic partner, and we reflect that in our real lives. There’s a million apps dedicated to helping you find someone to date, and we even sometimes define ourselves by whether we’re single, dating, or married. What we don’t talk about so much is how important friends, mentors, and other people can be in our lives. No one person can be your everything, and The Backstagers 2018 Valentine’s Intermission #1 delivers a short but impactful story about how sometimes even when you don’t “get” the person you have feelings for, there’s plenty of people in your life who care about you deeply.
Buy it. The Backstagers 2018 Valentine’s Intermission #1 is a great short story with a good message and some cute bonus mini-comics too. The Backstagers has been one of my favourite series, and even though I’ve already read a digital copy of The Backstagers 2018 Valentine’s Intermission #1 for this review, I’ll be buying a paper copy to add to my collection as well.