||THE FIRST BOOK FROM AN AMAZING NEW TALENT||In what we predict will be the most impressive comics debut of 2005, Kikuo Johnson has created an intimate and compelling graphic novel-length drama of young men on the cusp of adulthood.||First-rate prep school, S.U.V., and a dream house in the heights: This was the island paradise handed to Loren Foster when he moved to Hawaii with his father six years ago. Now, with the end of high school just around the corner, his best friend, Shane, has grown distant. The rumors say it's hard drugs, and Loren suspects that Shane has left him behind for a new group of friends.||At home, an unprecedented "B" on Loren's typically straight "A" report card has his father concerned. Dad's interrogation, however, is stemmed by an unexpected telephone invitation that Loren can't resist.||Loren accompanies Shane to a weathered house in the harbor shadows. With the friends he meets there, he endures a night of drug deals, petty theft, crystal meth, porn and a stray punch in the face.||The pressures of high school seem suddenly inconsequential in the morning. No longer seeking approval from anyone, Loren's strong work ethic becomes self-imposed, further veiling his escalating drug use.||Loren is strung along late one night as the boys break into a construction site and drag some valuable equipment into the trunk of his S.U.V. A police chase ends with Loren in handcuffs as his baffled father struggles to understand what the hell is going on.||At school, Shane's acceptance to MIT makes the front page of the campus paper. When Loren offers his congratulations, Shane coldly suggests that they should keep their distance from each other until a court date is decided. Loren is once again left behind.||What sets Kikuo's drama apart is the naturalistic ease with which he explores the relationships of his characters. It is at once an unsentimental portrait of that most awkward period between adolescence and young adulthood and that rarest of things- a mature depiction of immature lives. Visually, Johnson captures the languid tropical climate and strip mall tackiness of Hawaii in a rich chiaroscuro style reminiscent of Milton Caniff combined with the sensual ink work of Paul Pope or Jessica Abel.