Thursday, 2 July 2015

King #1 Review (Joshua Hale Fialkov, Bernard Chang)

Set some 300 years in a destroyed Los Angeles, King is the last man alive searching for the Life Seed to restart the fallen world, or something! Hindering his quest are hyper-intelligent dinosaurs, humanoid animals called CrossFreaks, and robotic karate bears. 

There’s actually even more bizarreness to King’s world than just those things but you get the idea - it’s an odd place. And of course I’m not opposed to creativity, buuut… this comic feels like it’s trying a bit too hard to be quirky and different. There’s too much thrown at the reader in this first issue. 

King is written a bit too cool for school, which, I don’t know about you, but makes me hate anyone who behaves that way, and, despite all the fantastical imagery of this world, a lot of the creatures behave like well-worn archetypes. There’s the angry biker (a muscle-bound duck called Weezee), the annoying co-worker (a pterodactyl), and the grumpy boss (a mix of J. Jonah Jameson and Danny DeVito’s Louie from Taxi). 

Along with all this full-body-immersion into King’s life is his abstract quest: looking for the Life Seed. What is that? And it makes the world habitable or something again? How? Isn’t the world habitable now? Will that mean bringing back humanity or make life better for the CrossFreaks? This first issue doesn’t need to answer all of that, I’m just saying that it’s difficult to become invested in a storyline that’s hard to comprehend and writer Joshua Hale Fialkov could’ve done a better job of setting it up. 

I never read Green Lantern Corps so this is my first exposure to Bernard Chang’s art which is outstanding. Fialkov picked the right guy to draw King with Chang - the numerous character designs, the ruined landscapes, even the clothing; it’s a comic that’s drawn with enormous imagination and skill. 

I’m not yet won over with King #1. I like the art but the writing has to be there too for me to recommend it. I’m hoping it’ll be the one Fialkov comic I like and not end up like Vertigo’s dismal Hinterkind series, which has a similar story. We’ll see if it settles down and becomes more focused as it continues.

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