Wacky Raceland has been a fairly dark series right from the beginning, but in issue 5 Ken Pontac and Leonardo Manco delve into the twisted past, as well as a psychedelic present.
My feeling that this really is not a comic book for kids was solidified by the opening sequence, in which the drivers wind up tripping out on magic mushrooms. It’s quite funny, but definitely not for all ages.
The mushrooms also seem to have the effect of freeing up some of the repressed memories the characters have, and a significant amount of the story takes place in the “butcher shop,” where many of them were created, altered or otherwise abused.
Bit by bit, driver by driver, the reader gets to learn more about the people inhabiting this twisted world, and I find my appreciation for this book growing with each issue. Do I say that in every single review? I think so. But it’s true.
The story in issue 5 allows us more background on the Ant Hill Mob, the Slag Brothers and Professor Pat Pending. By now it has become clear that every one of the drivers is, to some degree, a victim of the mysterious announcer. In this issue, we get to see how horrifically they have been treated.
It’s an important step. Many of the characters are not, on the surface, inherently sympathetic. This story, which continues into the next issue, gives the reader information that cannot help but make us feel for the drivers, no matter how horrible and odd they are.
Though there is no specific race in this issue, the story still does culminate in an impromptu one, as the drivers rush to find the Butcher Shop, the site of the atrocities committed against them, and have to avoid a nanite storm and a particularly terrifying sanditpede.
Manco’s art on all of this is really effective. The flashback scenes in the Butcher Shop convey all the horror of the situation, and the race through the desert makes the most of the cool cars and nasty monsters.
Another superb issue, and once again, I cannot wait for the next one.