Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks serialized their graphic novel online, and the print edition made its debut at Toronto Comic-Con on May 11, 2013. It's like The Breakfast Club, but with more chainsaws and killer robots.
Two childhood best friends find themselves in conflict when the Robotics Club and the Cheerleaders from Hollow Ridge High seek control of student council so they can acquire money for their respective pet projects. Charlie is an atypical jock, athletic and popular, but quiet. The cheerleaders pick him to be their puppet candidate. Nate is a nerd, but he's outgoing and scheming. Naturally, he wants the position for himself, and his club. The contest quickly grows ugly.
Then things take some unexpected turns.
Faith Erin Hicks gives excellent attention to small details in order to convey character and emotional states. Her art works perfectly with Shen's fast-moving, cinematic script. The story features excellent flow-- except for a couple of deliberate, hilariously abrupt shifts. The plot features some familiar elements and some you likely won't see coming as rivals join forces and head for a violent robotics competition.
The key characters have depth that transcends their initial stereotype. In fact, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong overcomes stereotype far better than The Breakfast Club. Holly the head cheerleader is blonde and popular, but far from vacuous. She can be scary, but not in the expected Mean Girls manner. Joanna, the geek girl, may be something of a Mary Sue, but she's a developed character of a type we see too seldom in popular culture. The world contains (among other types) nerds and jocks, but it contains many diverse kinds of nerds and jocks. This graphic novel recognizes the fact. Unlike The Big Bang Theory, it never devolves into a Geek Minstrel Show– or, for that matter, a parade of athlete clichés.
This does not mean it avoids obvious types, especially among the minor characters. At the robot competition, our heroes find rivals in a pair of neckbeard guys who complain of being bullied and ostracized for being nerds, while bullying and ostracizing others in their own world. The conflict has a memorable start, and ends a little too quickly. I felt like we could have seen more of these guys.
We certainly see enough of them in real life.
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong may have a few forced developments, but it works too often for anyone to worry about them. Have Shen and Hicks produced the next Scott Pilgrim? Time will tell, but they've definitely created a standout North American graphic novel that eschews capes, tights, and magic.
Title: Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Written by Prudence Shen
Art by Faith Erin Hicks
First Published: May 2013