Incredible Doom: Vol. 1

HarperAlley. May 2021. 288p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780063064942; pap. $16.99. ISBN 9780063064935.
Gr 9 Up–This achingly poignant 1990s-set graphic novel pays homage to the internet’s role as correspondence tool, library, and liberator. Allison’s abusive, controlling father allows her to do little else but take part in his magic show; eventually she takes shelter at an online pen pal’s house. Meanwhile, in a separate but loosely linked narrative, Richard is bullied at his new school until he meets a volatile protector from an online bulletin board called “Evol BBS”. Dot matrix printers, Nintendo Power cheats, cassette players, and dial-up noises are depicted in all their nostalgic glory. The bulletin board systems of old are lovingly rendered, complete with chunky text and ASCII art. Bogart’s clean linework relies on dot eyes and near-monochrome blue and black coloring. Flashbacks are rendered in pale lines and expertly flesh out Allison’s and Richard’s inner lives for dramatic effect. This is a story of older teens reaching out for connection and finding joy despite messy misunderstandings and the awkwardness of adolescence. Anyone who remembers the internet’s heyday or enjoys using online forums now will immediately recognize the reassuring kinship made possible through a screen. As Allison says, “It’s like coming up for air, discovering some people out there don’t suck.” The cast appears to be mostly white; Allison’s friend Sam is biracial. Richard’s friend Tina is queer. Language and violence make this book ideal for older teens, though adults will likely devour it, too.
VERDICT Readers will root for these characters who are desperately attempting to forge much-needed bonds in this retro-tech drama that gets so much of the Nineties right that it hurts.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing