The Grass Kingdom is a place where people who don’t fit into society – or don’t want to fit – go to live. It’s a haven, a promised land. This has the potential to attract a lot of different types of folks: people who are running; people who are hiding; people who aren’t exactly on the up and up. Like murderers.
In the last issue of Grass Kings, Robert (the leader of the Kingdom) and Bruce (who has been a Sheriff in the outside world) begin following a lead that a killer might be living among them. Matt Kindt (writer) lets the second arc of the story unfold like a thick, rich drawl as we, the readers, are introduced to various characters living within the Kingdom. In issue #8, we get to know Pike. I won’t reveal his story here – that’s for the readers to dig into – and I’ll only say that it’s intriguing and starts to give us a deeper glimpse into the world Kindt has mostly stayed on the surface of.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, Maria – the wife of Sheriff Humbert outside of the Kingdom (Oh, to be named after a detestable literary character.), came to the Kingdom looking to escape him. Robert took her in, and Humbert came in full force to get her back. Humbert and Robert didn’t seem to like each other all that much, and the confrontation between Humbert’s police force and the people of the Kingdom turned into a minor war pretty quickly. The one thing I’m missing now in this issue is a reference point that shows us the tension is still there to some degree. It might be when one sits down to read the graphic novel; that feeling will be pretty prevalent throughout. Month to month, you lose some of the gravity.
I’ve always been kind of mixed about Tyler Jenkins’ art, but it’s settled into a nice rhythm, capturing moments of sharp violence with the languidness of rural America. I’m becoming a fan. Hilary Jenkins’ watercolor-style colors make you feel like you’re stepping into a painting. A lot of the imagery feels like it could be framed and hung on a wall. One image that stands out in particular is a very simple one: a mouse running for its mouse hole. From images in previous issues, you know Kindt and Jenkins are working pretty smartly with visual metaphors – there are few comics on the market that do so with such intelligence. What happens to the mouse in the next panel, I’ll leave for you to find out, so you can decipher the potential meaning on your own.
This is one of two murder mysteries on the shelves with Kindt’s name on it. They are each incredibly different in tone and style, but both told with the even hand of a master storyteller. I didn’t feel that way right off about Grass Kings, but I’m glad I had the patience and trust in Kindt to stick around. It’s paying off.