Monday, March 13, 2017

Review - Grass Kings #1 (@boomstudios)


"So let me tell you, this ain't a place you take to lightly."

History has a way of leaving people behind as those who fail to adapt are potentially doomed to become irrelevant. There are still pockets of peoples around the world content to live the way those before them lived, despite the fact that the world seems to move on without them. The citizens in Grass Kings #1 from BOOM! Studios are a prime example. The issue is written by Matt Kindt, illustrated by Tyler Jenkins and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Eldest brother Robert leads a grief-stricken life, having lost his daughter to a tragic accident, followed by his wife disappearing one morning never to return. When an enigmatic young woman named Maria flees to their community in search of safe haven, Robert takes her in. Will his decision lead to ruin and retribution dooming the Kingdom?

Kindt's talents are unquestionable at this point and the ease with which he informs the reader is pretty amazing. Kindt starts things off by introducing the reader to Grass Kingdom through both a history of land-grabbing and a tour of the current Grass Kingdom in a way that is definitely expository but doesn't feel like it. Many of the Grass Kingdom's main players are given a quick introduction that Kindt handles deftly. Each of these characters play a role in maintaining Grass Kingdom and Kindt walks the reader through them all like a perp being escorted out of town in the back of a police car. The dialogue never feels too forced as if Kindt is spoon-feeding the reader; instead, it feels completely natural and lends itself well to the overarching dynamic.

The narrative is fantastic in its own right, but it's Jenkins' ethereal art style that elevates Grass Kings #1 even further. His style is a gorgeous display of watercolors that feel disjointed in a positive way. Jenkins' surreal approach is phenomenal in that it lends an antiquated look to the Grass Kingdom, emphasizing the fact that their general way of life is an isolation of a different time. The frenetic nature of watercolors in general (and Jenkins' harsher brush strokes at points) work well for the story as it allows Jenkins to add an air of slightly off to Grass Kingdom and its inhabitants. There's just an abundance of personality in all the characters that Jenkins allows to shine through on each panel.

Grass Kings #1 is a brilliant first issue that does everything a first issue should do with the touch of a later issue. The residents of Grass Kingdom are fiercely protective of their way of life and will go to great lengths to maintain that way of life. The pacing of the issue by Kindt is relaxed yet undercut by an impending sense of trepidation on the part of the reader. Jenkins' illustrations are a perfect fit for the story as they emphasize that beautiful chaos well. Grass Kings #1 is a fine example of quality storytelling and art coming together flawlessly.

Grass Kings #1 is available now.

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