REVIEW: Lemonade Code – Rivalry, Heart and Robots

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Lemonade Code Review

Lemonade Code follows the story of Robert Reynolds: a mad scientist on his quest for supremacy of the lemonade market on his street corner. It is written by Jarod Pratt, art and coloring by Jey Odin, and lettered by Cranki. Lemonade Code is published by Oni Press.

REVIEW: Lemonade Code - Rivalry, Heart and Robots 1


Lemonade Code Review

Lemonade Code takes place in a world similar to ours but with more advanced technology. Even with the sci-fi elements of flying cars, VR headsets and robots, the story keeps the human element at its core.  Lemonade Code is for fans of Scott Pilgrim who wanted to share that realism and humor with a younger audience. The story is a perfect book for young readers due to the simplicity of it being a stand alone graphic novel and not an ongoing series. Lemonade Code also breaks down complex ideas, such as string theory, in ways that children can understand while still having the heart and laughs that adults can appreciate.

Lemonade Code graphic novel review

Lemonade Code Story

While Lemonade Code bills itself as the simple story behind a black eye, it’s much more than that. Robert Reynolds is a young mad scientist being raised in the suburbs by his mother Doctor Mama. Doctor Mama is a great figure for young readers to see: a single Black woman who is breaking boundaries in her STEM field research. Initially the perfect image of a stone-cold scientist, she reveals the cause is the strain of working all day at a job that doesn’t give her time to be with her son.

To understand one of the key themes of this story, the elements of science must be stripped away. Robbie is feeling under-appreciated by his mom and spends many sleepless nights trying to prove to her that he deserves her time.

In an attempt to fund his grand scheme Robbie decides to build the lemonade stand of the future. With his machines Robbie devises a way to infuse his lemonade with any imaginable flavor. If you can imagine it, you can drink it. He starts to panic when he gets competition from his neighbor Daphne. Daphne is the perfect foil to Robbie. Her style is traditional: classic wooden box stands and classic lemonade. She then proceeds to act as a stereotypical rival, poking holes in his business plan pushing him to new heights of evil schemes.

Pratt does a fantastic job of writing Robbie and Daphne as they could have easily fallen into the trap of writing children as small adults. Both characters are clearly children, from Robbie spending many nights awake to impress his mom to Daphne practically saving the neighbourhood with her rap skills.

Lemonade Code Art

Odin takes Pratt’s fantastic writing and creates a world perfect for both the young characters and a young audience. Reminiscent of Oni Press’ other hit book Scott Pilgrim, there is a simplified yet high-quality look that will appeal to young comic readers. One of the areas where Odin shines are his characters. Every character beams with emotion, from Robbie angrily screaming to Daphne playfully singing. The emotion is the punch behind the art.

A facet that Pratt creates and Odin expands on is the amount of representation involved. Robbie is one of the first Black male comic characters with dreadlocks, which is a characteristic that is not typically seen in mainstream comics. The lead characters, as well as most of the background characters, are all minorities. This accentuates that the future they live in is more diverse than the one we currently live in. This helps young readers have a better picture of the world they live in: one where everyone can be the main character, not just white men.

Lemonade Code is not a comic I would normally pick up due to its intended audience, but I am so glad that I did. This is a story bleeding with heart and love, where the relationships between people stand out in a world made cold by technology. If you know or have a child who wants to get into comic books but don’t know where to start, this is it. With representation for every reader, no scientific idea too complex for Robbie to explain, and humor abound the pages, this book is a great gift for young readers.

Pick up Lemonade Code from your local comic shop.


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