Review: Relics of Youth #1 (Vault Comics)

Every week, it really does feel like Vault Comics’ library just gets bigger and bigger, with their name hardly ever out of the limelight as they announce ‘another new series’. For us, this week is no exception as we check out recent release from the Vault, Relics of Youth #1, which sees a group of teenagers travel to a mysterious island. Is this yet another feather to Vault’s bow or will we finally find a chink in their armour?

Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Chad Rebmann, Matt Nicholas
Artist: Skylar Partridge (Art), Vlad Popov (Colours), Deron Bennett (Letters)
Price: £2.49/$3.99 from ComiXology

Relics of Youth tells the story of six teenagers, all from different walks of life, who are brought together by one of their own due to the only shared experiences; visions of an unknown island and a mysterious tattoo they each have on their person. Upon discovering that the tattoos will lead them to this enigmatic isle, the group set off to sea in search of it. Once they find this island, however, all six find there are greater mysteries in the form of abandoned villages, old galleons, wandering spirits and a vicious gang of pirates willing to stop at nothing to get a mysterious relic.

Chad Rebmann and Matt Nicholas have created a very interesting story within Relics of Youth, as this first issue hints at a very slow burn, but deliberate thriller which imbues a real supernatural vibe. With both the concept and the characters, Rebmann and Nicholas have infused hints of Tomb Raider and (as referenced within) the Goonies, while the inclusion of the tattoos on a chosen few offers a more sci-fi mystery in the vein of Flashforward or Manifest. Speaking of characters, all of the kids are well written and feel naturally likeable and compelling despite their limited individual focus. The main concept of the series, however, is where the issue falters as the motivations for the plots progression feels very vague, even for a mystery, although the final cliffhanger certainly makes up for this and makes returning for the next issue a very tempting prospect.

Skylar Partridge’s artwork, meanwhile, is really beautiful, as her style lends itself well to making the book feel like both an adventure story and a coming of age tale. Of course, where her work excels is in the various characters facial expressions, with the various character’s various feelings really coming across in how their faces look. Meanwhile, colourist Vlad Popov also does some stellar work with some wonderfully bright but subtle colours. That said, while the overall colours of great, it’s the individual main characters introductions whig best highlight Popov’s work as each member of the cast appears to have a different background tone to the others upon their first appearance, helping to differentiate not just the characters but also their emotional frameworks.

Relics of Youth is yet another win for Vault comics as it’s highly intriguing and captivating story, coupled with another selection of gorgeous visuals, make this another must read. While this issue does struggle to get across the main crux of the story, the flawless execution otherwise by this creative team makes for more than enough goodwill to read this instalment and then come back next month for another.