GR-8 Comic Review - Not just good, it's great!

A page from the comic GR-8 by Red Rhino Comics

All-ages books shouldn't mean "kiddie books". Comics are meant to be for everyone, and should give you the same wonder whether you read them when you're 8 or 80. Case in point: Red Rhino Comics' GR-8, a great space adventure comic you should be reading!

GR-8 is the story of 10-year-old Cal, a human boy, and his alien friend Red, both living inside Galaxy Runner Eight, a massive spaceship. Cal is aching to explore the wild frontier of deep space with Red in tow without presky responsibilities like studying. But when they become witnesses to shady aliens up to no good, Cal's dream became a sudden reality as he and Red are thrust headlong into a daring adventure to clear their names!

GR-8 reads like a labor of love from writer Stephen Tramontana, who seems to know his way around writing for comics better than others. The book reads at a snappy pace, pushing you to something new and exciting with every turn of the page. From Wild West analogues to space zoos filled with weird and funny aliens (my favorite part of the book, bar none), GR-8 just throws you into the passenger seat and hopes you strapped yourself in tight! Because when your main characters are a kid and a baby rhino Mesuit alien, there's no telling where you might end up!

The kids Cal and Red are are also thankfully not the annoying kind, but read rather like real kids with real hopes, wants, and fears. Their budding friendship is also sweet without being too sappy, and I'd love to see what kind of adventures their friendship takes them next.

The adults are just as great. Surrounding Cal and Red are grownups of all shapes, sizes, and schemes. There are good adults like Cal's mom and dad; there are bad adults like the Big Bads that Cal and Red are running from; and there are those who are surprisingly multi-faceted like the renegade Roark or the noble Aziva who help navigate Cal and Red through many dangers. Having a well-rounded cast of memorable characters is a breath of fresh air, and is rare in an all-ages book. More characters like this, please!

The art ain't no slouch either. Artist David Pentecost and colorists Juan M. Rodriguez and Danny Sanchez Chavez knock it out of the park with every page. Pentecost's sequential storytelling chops complement Tramontana's nimble plotting and makes for a fun and easy time reading. If anything knocks a few points out of it, it's that some pages or panels look rushed, making the book's art quality uneven. But when the story gets going, though? You probably won't even notice because you're busy grinning ear to ear.

GR-8 stands out as a welcome escape from the grim and gritty status quo and a lovingly made all-ages comic that's unabashedly fun. Even as an adult in my 30s (oh god), I found lots to love here, and I'm sure kids will too.

Issues 1 to 5 are available via Comixology, with a trade collecting those issues coming soon. Digital copy provided by the publisher for review.

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