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Comic Book / Bad Island

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Probably not the best spot for a family vacation, call me crazy.

Bad Island is a Young Adult graphic novel by Doug TenNapel that was published in 2011 by Scholastic.

It tells of a group of people who are given the opportunity to overcome their personal flaws after they're marooned on a remote, uncharted island. This isn't just any island, either. This is an island populated with strange creatures, increasingly bizarre phenomena, enigmatic architecture, hostile natives, and a mystery that extends back into the far reaches of the distant past...and there are all these flashbacks too.


Okay, that admittedly sounds like very familiar territory. But while this comic and its better-known predecessor do share the same basic elements, Bad Island plays these elements out in an entirely different way.

In the case of Bad Island, the castaways are a quirky, semi-dysfunctional family of fournote  (and their pet snake) who end up on the island as the result of an ill-fated boating trip. Soon after their arrival, they learn that the island is home not only to ferocious beasts not seen anywhere else on the planet, but also to a very ancient and powerful secret, a secret that someone (or something) would kill to keep hidden... Oh, and there's a subplot with giant sentient robots. Hey, it's a TenNapel comic; that sort of thing is a given.

Bad Island contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Reese becomes this to the group this very early on, which only heightens Lyle's sense of inadequacy as the head of the household.
  • Action Survivor: All 4 family members qualify as this.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. The dialogue in the flashbacks are in English, but just for the reader's convenience. With the exception of an instance of telepathy, none of the sentient creatures encountered speak English in the main plot.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Karen, who could maybe be Latina, Indian or Middle Eastern. Oddly, her kids look 100% white.
  • And I Must Scream: Since The Prince is able to communicate with the family, doesn't that mean he was fully conscious - albeit immobile - during his eons of captivity?
  • Anti-Hero: Lyle is a Type I who eventually manages to drop the "Anti" as he becomes more competent in leading and protecting his family. Reese is a Type II who also drops the "Anti".
  • Apocalyptic Log: One is found early on by Lyle
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Prince, who intervenes just as the Big Bad is finally about to deliver the killing blow to the family.
  • Big Good: The Island itself, which makes the title referring to it as bad rather ironic.
  • Character Development: Over the course of the story, the family members learn how to work together as a team, not just in contributing toward a common goal but also in learning to trust each other more.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Pickles the Snake.
  • Coming of Age Story: Reese's arc is basically this. The same can be said of the Prince, in his case signified by his seemingly-wiser behavior and his new whiskers.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Prince's rematch with The Triangle-Headed Alien.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The entire family, other than Janie, seems adept at this, but Karen stands out the most.
  • Humongous Mecha: Sentient ones exist in the Flashbacks. They protect and rule over a race of smaller creatures that act as the pilots. The Island is actually one of these mechas who was kidnapped and put into forced hibernation.
  • Indy Ploy: Karen distracting the tribe and buying time so that Lyle can untie himself; it doesn't work, but her efforts did buy them enough time for Reese and Janie to rescue them.
  • Pride: The very notion of pride is deconstructed with The Prince.