An awkward teenage boy named Tomas joins a dodgeball game between his team, the Jazz Pandas, and the Kettle Balls. The Jazz Pandas have a long streak of losing, and Tomas's ineptitude isn't helping their nerves. Drew, their beleaguered leader, doesn't know what to do with him on their team.
As it is a part of Boom! Studios' Boom! Box imprint, Dodge City #1 skews for a younger audience. While it isn't going for as young an audience as the delightful Lumberjanes, it's still going for an audience younger and generally different than a 22-year-old white cis-male comic reviewer. Keep that in mind as a disclaimer.
Dodge City #1 is a bit of a mixed bag. While it is funny and downright adorable at times, it still takes many aspects of its conflict and plot far more seriously than ideal. While it tries to justify the seriousness of it with the teenage cast and a history of losing, it still doesn't warrant how important the dodgeball competition is made to seem.
Maybe this is a situation where how endearing the cast is conflicts with the narrative. While they have some problems in their lives, I struggle to buy that having another losing season of dodgeball would destroy them. Some don't seem to care that much about the game, and the ones that do appear to care are implied to have other things going on in their life to not be affected that much by a loss.
That said, the cast is charming and easy to cheer on, so the comic still has a fair amount going for it.
Cara McGee, known also for her work on Over the Garden Wall, brings her A-game to the comic. The visual personality and detailing given to each character goes a long way in making everyone in Dodge City so damn adorable. Brittany Peer and McGee provide the coloring work, which is bright and almost pastel for the most part, and it works. It contributes to the quirky vibe Dodge City maintains throughout most of the comic.
While the characters of Dodge City are great, I'm left struggling to be invested in the plot and conflict. That's a pretty big problem, but if off-beat sports stories are your thing, Dodge City could still scratch that particular itch for you. Plus, McGee and Peer's art is great, so there are some things going for this book. Personally, I can tentatively recommend it.