Brain Camp — written by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan, with art by Faith Erin Hicks and coloring by Hilary Sycamore. Faith Erin Hicks comes through with great visuals in the art — I think this is the first major comic she's worked on where she hasn't also contributed the writing.
We open up with a strange scene of two campers working on an orientation project at Camp Fielding, which is a camp for very smart kids (and their driven parents). All of a sudden both campers are suffering strange symptoms like coughing up feathers and suffering a violent end. It's a classic cold opening for what turns out to be a pretty straightforward horror story. We next meet our main characters, Jenna and Lucas, who after some exposition, arrive at the camp at same time — since they're replacements for the two campers struck with crazy-avian superflu in the first scene, they are a week behind everyone else at the camp and paired up together.
I didn't love it, but I did enjoy it; it's a good briskly-paced read and I think Hicks' art is a great complement to the writing. Think of it as a "popcorn" movie — a wacky, kind of scary thriller — basically a B-movie vibe. Unfortunately, I'd have to agree with Johanna Draper Calrson in her review though; despite its title and the set-up of having the tale take place at a camp for smart kids there isn't much reason given for it when the plot all shakes out. The kids "smarts" don't really even save them either (I don't want to give away any spoilers) — ultimately, the smart camp is kind of a red herring. I think if the plot had made more out of the "brain camp" itself, it would have been a better pay-off to the story and a more satisfying read.
I also just reread Hicks' last graphic novel The War At Ellsmere – where Brain Camp delivers action and some scares, I think it lacks the character development and real conflict I got from Ellsmere. I am looking forward to seeing art and words from Hicks on her next graphic novel Friends With Boys which doesn't have a release date from First Second yet, but Hicks has written that she's finished it.
The publisher provided a free copy to ComixTalk for review purposes.