Written and Drawn by Alex Robinson
Published by
Top Shelf

Andy is your classic middle-aged man. He’s got a wife, kids, and more than a little regret in his background. But his current hurdle is his attempt to quit smoking, and like so many, he just can’t get over the hump. He’s tried everything, and he’s at the end of his rope, when someone suggests he try seeing a hypnotherapist. Figuring that, even if he doesn’t believe in it, that it can’t hurt, he takes his place on the couch and gets the most unexpected result possible: he wakes up in his fifteen year-old body, stuck in the middle of high school. Unable to determine what exactly has happened to him, or to wake up (if it actually is a hypnosis-induced delusion) he suddenly finds himself with a second chance… and chance to put some very wrong wrongs very, very right. But if he does, will he alter the future irreparably?

We’ve all had this fantasy: what it would be like if we could go back and do it all over again. How would we fix the broken past? Would our adult knowledge change our fortunes for the better? Would we have the words to say what we wanted to and never did? That’s the question at the crux of COOL, as Andy finds himself with an opportunity to ask out Marie, the girl he had crushed on throughout adolescence but never had the nerve to speak to. He also discovers that he has an opportunity to speak one last time with an ill relative and get some closure.

Alex Robinson is one of those rare talents working in comics whose work is always worth paying attention to. His previous works, BOX OFFICE POISON and TRICKED were monstrous opuses that clocked in around 600 pages each, and were notable for his tremendous ability to write fascinating and gripping characters. COOL is only different by its length; at 128 pages, it’s shorter than his earlier tomes, but it continues displaying his gift for putting really interesting people on the page and letting them develop. Andy is a wonderfully conflicted presence, as each step he takes to try and fix some of the things that went wrong in his youth leads to more internal strife because of his strong desire to get back to adult life and not behave in a way that is immoral or inappropriate in his eyes.

His art is expressive, and he uses shadow very effectively in setting up the structure of his pages and the emotion of the moment. And his work in bringing proper detail to 1985 as Andy travels backwards is terrific (kudos on the Heather Thomas poster). But ultimately, what makes COOL work is that, from page one, we immediately care about Andy. Even before he makes his journey backwards in time. At some point, maybe Robinson will falter and fail to deliver on his tremendous talents, but with TOO COOL TO BE FORGOTTEN, he’s not even remotely close to being in danger of doing so.

Marc Mason