Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Comic Review: Wild Children by Alex Kot and Riley Rossmo

Title: Wild Children (one-shot)
Author: Alex Kot
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 07/24/2012
ISBN: 1607065819

I'm honestly not sure what I thought about this after I finished it, but I'll warn potential readers that this isn't exactly light reading. I have to say that while this wasn't what I was expecting exactly, I was just left a little underwhelmed at the end of it all.

Guns. Acid. Cameras. School. The themes behind the controversial Hellblazer: Shoot by Warren Ellis and Phil Jimenez merge with the attitude of the Grant Morrison and Philip Bond masterpiece of teenage revolt, Kill Your Boyfriend, deliver a story of magic, passion, and disinformation. Wild Children: A different type of education.

I started out really digging the feel of this comic. The artwork is pretty good. It suited the initial feel of the characters while not being overly polished. When the artists start bringing in the more flashy stuff later on, it's actually to a rather nice effect. I believe that this is because initially we're to believe that this is a simple little world where everything is exactly as it seems to be, with the stranger artwork coming in only after revelations about said world begin to start sinking in to the various unnamed characters in the story. Art-wise, this was great. Story-wise, this was just "OK". I'm going to try to keep from being too spoilerific, but I'll warn you that I might accidentally let some story line spill in my attempts to explain why I felt disappointed by this.

We're thrown rather abruptly into the story line, with little to no information about our youthful characters other than they're teenagers that are pretty disillusioned with the educational system. A few of them are dating, but that's pretty much all we're ever really given about them. We don't even get their names. This actually works in the comic's favor for the most part since the point of this comic is that it's not supposed to be a big epic where just as much time is spent on fleshing out back stories as it is telling the bigger story. I wouldn't be lying if I said that it also kept me from fully sinking into the characters as much as I wanted to.

I think what the ultimate problem with this is that it just feels like it's trying too hard to tell its message. We have themes of anarchy, reality, and disillusionment, but I felt like I was being clubbed over the head with the message. The revelations here are interesting, which is why I was so disappointed in how heavy handed and preachy everything felt. The "ah ha!" moment just didn't have the momentum to go through the entire issue. In the end I couldn't help but feel that the characters were essentially being just as obtuse as the people they were trying to uprise against. The book relies too heavily on the idea that the message here is so novel and interesting that we'll just keep going.

Ultimately this wasn't bad and I appreciate that the comic team was taking a risk in trying to make something of this nature. It's just that this sort of thing has been done before and done better.   People who are entirely new to these types of comics will likely embrace this comic, and I encourage them to do so. There's a good idea here. For the ones who are familiar with surreal comics that deal with reality like this, you'll just get a feeling of "been there, done that, already replaced the t-shirt a few times". It's worth reading for the nice artwork and for introducing someone to surreal "challenge what you know" comics, but you'll want to have backup stuff to show them that there are better things out there.

3 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

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