In the hamlet of Cannon Cove, Oregon, life is pretty slow. The town’s main attraction is that it was the set for “The Gloomies,” a 1980s cult classic adventure film, which brings the tourists in by the droves. Five high school friends, Macy, Ed, Karma, Dot, and Wilder, along with Wilder’s dog Pipin, spend every Friday night playing poker and planning ways to escape their sleepy town.

One day, a mysterious chest arrives at the Cannon Cove Film Museum, bequeathed by the recluse Captain Denby upon his death. Macy, who works at the museum, bemoans the arrival of more junk to a building that is already filled to the brim with junk. That night, during the weekly poker game, the five friends become intrigued by the enigmatic gift. Smashing the lock off the chest, the friends discover it’s filled with nothing but odds and ends of the Captain’s life. But what is this?! A map! More specifically a treasure map drawn by the pirate legend Black Mary!

Then hairy heck breaks loose.

Misfit City is the tale of five friends who discover that their town is more than what it seems and is haunted by legends and riddles. With the annual Shuck Fair happening in the background, the girls race against time to solve the map’s mystery and potentially strike it rich.

Written by the debut comics authors Kristen “Kiwi” Smith (screenwriter of Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You ) and Kurt Lustgarten, the personality of the girls, their language, and their connection to each other is solid, even delightful. Smith’s movie work is evident here as the flow and plot of story is near seamless. No plot points are dropped while no hurried storylines are added simply for filler. Every word, movement, and location of the girls is skillfully written by Smith and Lustgarten and illustrated by the fabulous Naomi Franquiz. The colors Brittany Peer uses add to the story: the girls are as vivid as their personalities.

Smith is known for her homages to the 1990s and 2000s generation’s “Girl Power” feminism movement in her films and she makes good on this theme in Misfit City. Macy is in a electropunk feminist duo with her brother, Wilder is an activist, Dot is academically inclined, and Karma is the mystic. Each of the girls talents are called into being as the story progresses. I like to think of them as a 2010s high school version of the Spice Girls.

Volume one’s cliffhanger left me scrambling immediately to buy Volume 2, which came out in May 2018 and completes the series..

Mistfit City is hands down one of the best graphic novels I’ve read in a long time. I cannot stop talking about this book to anyone. It’s feminist, inclusive, nostalgic, and funny as heck. It is a girl power action adventure story at its finest and I highly recommend it to add to your collection.

Misfit City, vol. 1
by Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Kurt Lustgarten
Art by Naomi Franquiz
ISBN: 9781684150274
Boom! Studios, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: Teen

  • Lisa R.

    | She/They

    Reviewer and Content Editor

    Lisa contains multitudes. She is a content wunderkind, librarian, geek, and makes a delightful companion to trivia teams. She does not live in Brooklyn nor attend a fancy college. She spills her guts at https://lisarabey.substack.com and she can be found as @heroineinabook across the internet.

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