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Review: ‘Change’ #1

The inaugural issue of Change by writer Ales Kot and artist Morgan Jeske is a bit of an overly ambitious mess – a mess with moments of genius tempered by moments of head-scratching vapidity. The book’s shortcomings are made more frustrating by the potential of Jeske’s kinetic art and Kot’s premise – an unlikely group of misfits find themselves uniquely situated to save or damn us all. When the issue’s pros and cons are added up, the potential is squandered.

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There’s something to be said for a comic book that opens with Holy Ghost lyrics (“Do It Again”) and an excerpt from a Sylvia Plath poem (“The Rival”). It almost prepares you for the sort of self-indulgent hipster romanticism that follows. Almost. But there’s nothing that can possibly prepare you for the book’s opening line: “Her face was beautiful, like drone video footage from Afghanistan.” Face, meet palm. Even if Kot’s intention was to set one’s teeth on edge with that type of mind-bogglingly asinine statement, it’s a risky gamble to take. I suspect that Kot was aiming for “Edgy” (a territory that’s growing a wee bit overcrowded these days) but he ultimately lands somewhat southwest of his mark, in the land of Trying-Too-Hard.

The issue opens with an excerpt from a hackneyed, uninspired screenplay by a hackneyed, uninspired wannabe writer, which is the only circumstance that renders Kot’s opening forgivable. What follows is a convoluted recounting of a relatively simple narrative. Change is on the horizon and there are great and terrible things in store for a car thief (also a wannabe writer) and a rapper (also a wannabe film producer). Along the way, these unlikely heroes encounter killer monks, an apocalyptic prophecy, and their own existential ennui. Though Kot’s ambition is commendable, he’s trying a bit too hard to be deep and meaningful.

Morgan Jeske’s art occasionally falls prey to much the same affliction, as the characters vacillate between heavily stylized figures and melting wax statues. Jeske does play fast and loose with his layouts and it works to his advantage as the dynamics that are missing from single panels are compensated for in the creative use of page space. The issue’s final act is particularly glorious explosion of chaos and color and the noticeable absence of Kot’s heavy-handed voiceover means that there’s nothing to detract from the visual splendor of Jeske’s art and Sloane Leong’s colors.

“Change” #1 has all the makings of a comic set to redefine a familiar formula but the end result feels sloppy and contrived. That being said, the creative team’s willingness to take risks does offer a glimmer of hope that subsequent issues will see the kinks ironed out.

2.5/5 – Skulls

Reviewed by MelissaGrey



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