Graham, Brandon. King City.

Berkeley: Image Comics, 2012.

I’ve read a fair quantity of graphic novels over the years and I guess I’ve reached the point where I’m usually satisfied to find either a good story rendered in merely competent, minimalist art, or interesting art used to relate a merely passable story. Because I seldom find both. King City is a blazing exception.

Joe left the city and landed in California, in search of he didn’t really know what, and was taken up by a secret group and trained at “the farm” as one of their agents. He’s now a cat master. Yep, the cat he carries in his backpack (or hung around his neck) is a tool/weapon that can do almost anything, from picking a lock to conducting an autopsy, provided he’s given the right injection. Now Joe is back in King City, with a couple of contracts for clients. There he hooks up with his old friend, Pete, who wears a ski mask nearly all the time, and who is adept with anything mechanical. And there’s Anna, Joe’s ex-girlfriend; he’s still kind of hung up on her, but she has a new boyfriend, Max, a heavily chalk-addicted, one-legged veteran of the zombie wars in Korea. Max has his own problems, of course. And Pete gets involved in trying to rescue an alien girl headed for sexual slavery by, well, think of them as The Mob. Joe is being used, too, for someone else’s ends. And that’s just the barest outline of the story.

Meanwhile, the art that carries the narrative is extremely detailed and filled with very inventive visual puns and cultural references, from “Raisin Hell” cereal to “Jose and Hose-B.” After you’re read a page, you tend to linger and study the panels at length, just so you don’t miss anything. “Quirky” is a good description. And there’s more than 400 pages of this, so settle in with your tin of fruit meat and enjoy.

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Published in: on 19 May 2013 at 5:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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