One of the things you may not know about me, is that I am a MASSIVE soccer fan. Soccer is the first sport I was able to play, and it continues to be my obsession to this very day (fun fact, you could play soccer long before you could pick up a pigskin in the town I was raised in). I wear the teams I support proudly on my chest. From the MLS, it's Sporting Kansas City all day baby!!!! I'm also super hyped that we have a WSL team coming back to KC (RIP FC Kansas City) in the Current! From the EPL, its Aston Villa! #Villains. But enough about my love of the world's game. I'm super excited to review Jay Sandlin's upcoming Maverick Release: World Class.
World Class (Maverick) By: Jay Sandlin, Patrick Mulholland, Rebecca Nalty and Youtube's Favorite Letterer--Justin Birch Releases: March 30, 2022
Small confession, I'm in love with Jay Sandlin's work. From his Mad Cave Studios releases of: Over the Ropes and Hellfighter Quin or Djinn Hunter from Black Box Comics (this one is ridiculously freaking good) or his work for Zenoscope on H. H. Holmes. He even has his own anthology in Space Police Files (also insanely amazing). I also miss GeekOpedia =-(. Knowing the style and grit I've seen in Sandlin's writing, I was super intrigued when Mad Cave Studios announced a previous Showcase both the Maverick imprint, and Sandlin as an author on World Class (which is branded as a YA graphic novel).
World Class tells the tale of Adrian "the Colombian Cannon" Molina attempts to land in the European Junior Leagues. While the book starts with an intense sequence of Adrian tearing it up on the pitch, the illusion is quickly snatched away as his VR soccer game ends, and he is quickly snapped back into reality at his local game shop. We quickly learn his dream of stardom could become reality as there is an upcoming showcase match (the Exhibition of Allies) which may be scouted by organizations looking for the "next big thing." We also learn that the Colombian Cannon does have an issue. Just like Fulton Reed could rip epic shots for the Mighty Ducks, neither Reed nor Molina have aim.
This downfall is what gives Molina heavy confidence issues. He's more than aware his competitors refer to him as "the Cannon who never hits his shot." While he is heavily supported by his parents to follow his love and passion for the game, doubt weighs heavy in his head. While doubt looms we are quickly taken to match day between the Bogota Condors and Regents United (from the UK). I simply love the intensity of something as simple as a pre-match coin flip. The artwork surrounding event has the intensity of an anime style battle (I've been watching a lot of Beyblade with Toby lately...). In the final pages of the preview with a score of Condors 2 and Regents 4, the Regents United coach is forced to put their star player Titan Evans into the game, and we quickly see a dust up between him and Molina. To find out what happens, I, like the rest of the public am eagerly awaiting March 30th to discover the Cannon's fate!
Should You Buy It?
YES!!!!! There are several reasons World Class should appeal to a broad audience. First, Jay Sandlin does it again. It is clear that Sandlin looked back at his past high-octane Mad Cave releases, and says "hold my beer." Sandlin is able to replicate the intensity of the Premier League or World Cup Final in print. But this intensity is also matched with the subtle emotional layering he builds into Molina and his family around him paired with the over-the-top style villain in Titan (I really felt like a good ol' 80s rivalry like Larusso vs Lawrence etc. shaping up). Needless to say, Sandlin has the ability to create a character relatable to a young adult audience as well as adults who can relate to emotional struggle. Second, the pairing of Patrick Mulholland and Rebecca Nalty on the art is absolute magic. They bring every bit of intensity and subtlety Sandlin's script demands, and elevate it to a level I didn't think would be possible in a graphic novel about soccer. There is an authentic feel to the pages that take place in the mall or the Molina family home as well as a high energy sporting event. Like I noted above, if you can make a dull coin flip something that hypes you up at the beginning of the match, magic achieved. Finally, it's time for some lettering love. Justin Birch continues to blow me away with his decisions and attention to detail with his lettering work. I don't even think soccer exists in the state of West Virginia, but my favorite Mountaineer brings the commentary, dialogue and NOISES!!!! to life! I think this book is going to be worth every penny of its $14.99 price tag, and I'm thoroughly excited for mine to arrive in the mail (and you know if I see it at my Target, I will pick up a couple extras for my classroom)! As soon as this post publishes, you better believe I'm DM-ing Jay to see if I can interview him again, it was a blast the first time, and I think now that I'm more confident in my review and interviewing skills, it could be a great time! So stay tuned!!!!!!