Thursday, January 18, 2007

You need to put down what you're reading and go get this if you haven't read it yet.

Grease Monkey is about a young man finding his place in the world. It’s about coming of age and being faced with mounds of adversity and seeing through the cracks in the veneer of your life while still coming out shining. Plus, it’s a really good looking comic book.

This is classic storytelling here. Young man goes away from home, gets an older mentor, ah heck just read that Action Philosophers issue with Joseph Campbell and you’ll understand (you are reading Action Philosophers, right?). This form of storytelling works because we are introduced to the world and the characters populating it through the eyes of the innocent observer. As a reader, we too are innocent observers trying to make sense of the world presented to us so we grow alongside the new guy.

And what a world it is. There are any number of sci-fi parallels here from Star Trek’s Enterprise, to the Death Star, to Battlestar Galactica, to Earth 1999, to Robotech and pretty much any connection between them. There’s a big ass spaceship and a bunch of crews living on it with all the same joys and disappointments of any society. They are competitive and petty as much as they can by sympathetic and caring.

What really struck me about this collection was how characters would show up every now and again in one issue only to return much later in ever more important and involved roles. We never get to know the supporting cast as much as we get to know Robin and Mac, but as the supporting cast grows we’re reminded of the wider world outside Bay M as well as the constant tension of being on the frontline of a war you’re waiting to fight.

The artwork was extremely pleasing to me in that it manages to mix a classic North American style with an older Japanese Animation style. Kind of a silver-age manga hybrid if you will. Every now and again I could see different influences peaking through as the situation dictated. Quite simply it works and it works really well.

I did feel the last few chapters weren’t as meaty as the rest of the book leading up to then but the sense that there is a second volume in the works makes me feel forgiving. The story doesn’t end on a very clean closing act but it’s probably just that the story up until that point was just so good I didn’t want it to end. I guess my favourite part about the whole thing is that we’re given these great support characters who are given the lead and we see them living in all the joys and pains while every now and then we’re reminded why they are where they are which makes the tensions all that more understandable as well as the need to relieve that tension be it through gambling, drinking or practical jokes.

Grease Monkey Page

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