Change #2 Review
By Zak Edwards
January 20, 2013 - 15:58
Publisher(s): Image Comics
Writer(s): Ales Kot
Penciller(s): Morgan Jeske
Colourist(s): Sloane Jeong
Letterer(s): Ed Brisson
Ales Kot, who’s graphic novel Wild Children was the runner-up for best OGN according to us, wears his influences on his sleeves, but he could have worse. Change is becoming more and more Grant Morrison-esque in all the best ways: it warrants careful meditation (Wild Children starts out with “I don’t understand” “It’s okay, I’ll repeat myself”) and isn’t afraid to... Well, Kot’s writing doesn’t seem to be afraid of a lot of things; he is more than willing to confuse and alienate readers and I’m sure the word ‘pretentious’ will come up in other reviews. But here, in this review, I have little else but admiration.
Comics, as I’m sure you know, can be woefully predictable and simple. The influence of pulp has lead to the same stories being told in what seems like an exhausted amount of ways. To make something truly new, or at least feel new, is a rare and difficult thing. Change is that comic and more than willing to be the moment for comics its title promises. But Change is not only unpredictable, it’s good enough to approach with patience. So often books race to the cliffhanger ending, stopping long enough for a couple of splash pages along the way, but Change swirls and breathes, seemingly taking its time while moving at a breakneck pace. Every page is telling a different story, like a condensed Seven Soldiers of Victory and seeing how these stories may or may not converge as we head to issue three is a joy. And while the endgame is clearly thought out, this book is curiously designed for monthly issues. That time lets you put it down and consider what’s happening and think about things. Then get the next issue, remind yourself of what’s going on, and think on it some more. I fear for those who try to digest this all in one terrible swig, it would probably being frustrating. Too much is happening.
Kot’s world building also takes some consideration because he seems more concerned with ideas than showing off his universe. Technologies and social functions are casually dropped and rarely explained, expecting the reader to both go with the flow (and seriously, the book reads fluidly, not easily, but as water on the page) and think hard about the series. Kot’s confidence borders on arrogance, but justified. To think a series like this is just pretentious, just some form of literary masturbation, is to miss the point entirely. This is more philosophy than entertainment, a consideration of the contemporary condition in form more than content, and almost screams disappointment for the unfulfilled promise at the end of The Invisibles. There are few books on the shelves this confident and this progressive.
Artist Morgan Jeske and colourist Sloane Jeong work together to bring the swirling narrative into cohesive fragments. Colour schemes change from page to page, setting to setting. Jekse is less concerned with accurate representation that surreal interpretation, frequently not representing what the ‘reality’ would be (if we could even drop such a word into this book). At one point, a colourless girl sits next to a suit with a mouth for a face, telling us so much in the little space. The girl is numb, disinterested; the man, spouting manufactured thought processes. The panel gives more in terms of theme, tone, and voice in a single panel than books spend entire trades figuring out. And Jeske’s characters are at once expressive and robotic, looking bored and contemplative all at once. As for me, I remain firmly in the latter category.
Grade: 10/10 Seriously, this book is the beginning of something, Kot is the writer to watch in 2013.
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