Fourth Grade Confidential is a Noir novel in comic book format. You follow Adin, a nine year-old hired by his little sister to find her stolen stuffed rabbit “Franklin.” This is AA Comics’ first publication, written by Adam and Neal Simon. Fourth Grade Confidential is a cute take on the noir detective genre. Although its characters are all children, I was swept up by the story from the first panel. The jokes are on point, the characters are fleshed out, and most importantly the story flows smoothly. It had me engaged all the way till the end. There are also fake ads peppered throughout the book that gives a nice break from the story.
Adin is a nine year-old detective. He feels very much alive; you get a realistic sense of what a kid who’s wiser than his years might think like. Adin isn’t perfect or some boy genius; but his wits and uncompromising morality help him with his struggles. Right from the first panel I felt myself drawn to Adin, I loved the way he carried himself, and his bed head hairstyle makes a nice realistic touch. In this book you’ll find no adults, Adin has to rely on himself for getting things done. The way he interacts with his little sister is endearing; he doesn’t bully her or yell at her, they actually make a great team.
The villains feel like they were pulled out of my childhood and Adin’s antagonist certainly struck a nerve with me. I had those old feelings of knots being tied in my gut while I read those parts; they feel bigger than they really are, even though they’re just kids. The characters he interacts with could all have their own stories as well, and notably the dialogue feels natural and keeps the story flowing right along.
The art isn’t spectacular, but it does have a few great moments. I like that they used black and white, it really helps with the mood. There were only a few panels that felt off putting. This was due to the art style being photo realistic. It looked like the artist traced over photographs. For better or worse, the backgrounds play a smaller role and the focus is always on the characters.
Fourth Grade Confidential caught me off guard, at first glance I really wasn’t expecting much by the cover. Maybe I enjoyed this because I had set my expectations so low. Being as objective as humanly possible I only found minor flaws that are easily overlooked. I’m enamored by character of Adin, however, Noel “the Mole” certainly held my interest too. I’d like to see where they ‘re going with him, and hopefully learn why he’s so street savvy. Adin’s girl is also a sharp gumshoe who’s looking to make a name for herself. There are plenty of places Neil and Adam Simon can take the stories and the characters and I’m really looking forward I won’t spoil here. This issue is a one shot story, so it’s wrapped up by the last page and the next issue is the start of a new story.
Fourth Grade Confidential
- Art - 8/108/10
- Story - 8/108/10