Bully wars #1

Story by Skottie Young
Art by Aaron Conley
Colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Lettering by Nate Piekos

To coincide with the ‘back to school’ season, Image Comics has released a new project by Skottie Young. The setting for Bully Wars is Rottenville High, where each year the school’s bullies compete to find out who the biggest bully is. Our central characters are three nerds Spencer, Edith and Ernie, and their middle school bully Rufus, as they enter their first year at Rottenville High. In an unlikely twist, the three bullying victims decide to help Rufus compete in the annual Bully Wars.

Conley’s art takes centre stage in this work. It’s reminiscent of some old school 80s comics, with its bright colour work and gruesome details. It’s clear to see why Young and Conley work well together, as Young’s own artwork on ‘I Hate Fairyland’ falls within similar artistic stylings. Conley’s work has some gross-out elements to it. And with the high school setting there are plenty of pimples and greasy teens for Conley to draw.

The story of Bully Wars flips the usual bullying story. The bully, by being a victim of bullying himself, does not learn the lesson that bullying is wrong. Instead his victims empathise with him and decide to help their biggest bully become better at bullying. It’s an interesting and funny take on the classic high school bully. By balancing the story out with Spencer, Edith and Ernie, it is possible to root for this underdog bully, without feeling like the whole comic is just about mean kids. If these kids who have been bullied all their life can root for the bully, then surely so can the reader.

I picked up this comic as a little challenge to myself, because it’s not a comic I would’ve naturally picked up off the shelf. And I’m not sure I’m sticking with this title for the long run. I do recommend this for a slightly younger audience. I know that as a teen I would’ve loved the gross, madcap artwork in this issue, and the storyline is funny and light. As a comic it is very good at what it does.

7/10

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