In BOOM Studios’ Sirens of the City #1, unconventional is the name of the game—with a healthy dose of a punk rock infused, fantasy ballad vibe dialed up to 11.
BOOM Studios’ Sirens of the City #1 introduces us to Layla, a down-on-her-luck punk, who is trying to make her way in a fictional New York City teeming with fantastic fiends and supernatural sideshows.
A child of the foster care system, Layla finds herself struggling to gain clarity in the chaotic streets of 1987 NYC. She appears to only now be discovering the reason for her recent misfortune: her voice carries with it a mysterious power. Capable of, at best, controlling the thoughts of men. And at worst, complete and utter destruction.
It doesn’t help, either, that she is pregnant and homeless. When we are introduced to her unwanted child-to-be’s father, Jerome, we learn that Layla shouldn’t expect much help from him. Afterall, the young man can barely take care of himself.
It isn’t until Layla meets Davi while evaluating her circumstances that we begin to unpack the heroine’s world and the people (or creatures) in it. Davi’s entry into the narrative is cleverly done. Author Joanne Starer (The Gimmick) uses this as the perfect opportunity to introduce readers to the city’s supernatural underbelly. A seemingly light hearted character, Davi allows for the tone of the narrative to stay buoyant in an otherwise seemingly dark and sinister world.
Sirens of the City features a stunning black-and-white landscape that thrusts us into the cultural rigidity that was America during the 1980s. The panels present the reader with red and blue accent colors that work to guide them along as Layla unravels the mysteries of her powers.
Old Stories Made New.
Maybe it is because I grew up during a time when every alt-rock nerd like myself romanticized about meeting girls like Angelina Jolie’s Kate (Hackers) or Katie Holmes’s Rachel (Disturbing Behavior) in the food court of our local mall. But there has always been something special about a heroine with a mohawk and an attitude problem, that has made me feel less like an outsider.
The story of angst-ridden youth, something that has screamed loudly ever since its arguable inception by way of one Holden Caulfield, is a story that will forever have a place in the hearts of many readers. Starer’s dialogue makes this angst feel just as real and palpable for me now at 38 as it was back in 2002 when I was scraping together money for guitar strings.
Khary Randolph brings the urban grime of 1980s NYC to life.
Starer’s writing is beautifully complimented by the art of Khary Randolph (Excellence). Randolph’s work provides us with the exact sort of stark contrast you can expect from a gritty 1980s New York City seemingly ensnared in a supernatural war. The more we learn about our protagonist and her world, the more the reds and blues mentioned earlier creep from one panel to the next. Thus providing us with the type of style one would expect to encounter during the fantastically expressive moment that was the 1980s. With every turn of the page, readers meet characters inspired by the style of the day. From Robert Smith’s mascara to Run D.M.C.’s jumpsuits. Each panel captures the styles of the Reagan-era icons we know and love today.
Believe me when I say that if you’re looking for a fresh take on the mythological creature that has enraptured readers since the days of Homer’s Odyssey, then this is the book for you.
Overall Grade: B+
Editor’s note: Sirens of the City #1 is available now—if you can find a copy. BOOM Studios has announced that the debut issue has sold out at the distributor level. A second printing featuring brand new cover art by series artist Khary Randolph, will be available in stores August 9, 2023. While you wait, here’s a look at the second printing cover, and a preview of issue #2, due in shops August 16th: