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‘Grass Kings #14:’ Comic Book Review

The most surprising thing about this issue was on the final page reading “To Be Concluded.” Nothing in this issue or the issues leading up to it gave me the distinct impression that this was to be the penultimate issue. Grass Kings, from chapter to chapter, has broken from your typical storytelling structures. In some ways, that’s benefited the story; you really have no idea where it’s going next. In other ways, it’s made it difficult to build a continuing sense of tension, stakes, or drama. Grass Kings is part murder mystery, part political allegory, and part snapshot of a type of people. The story doesn’t always capture all of these elements in a balanced way, but as you snake back and forth between stories and characters, there are those moments of brilliance that make the series worth reading.

A little back story: The Grass Kingdom is a segregated piece of land where squatters have been allowed to live and follow their own set of laws. This has gotten in the craw of the local law enforcement outside the kingdom in the nearby town of Cargill, particularly Sheriff Humbert, who will do anything to dismantle the Grass Kindgom’s freedom. A part of this conflict is the fact that a serial killer may have taken up residence in the kingdom, a serial killer that may have killed the daughter of the sort-of leader of the Grass Kingdom.

Currently, the kingdom and local law enforcement (plus tanks) are in a battle, a battle the kingdom may not be able to win. Meanwhile in Cargill, a resident of the kingdom is drawing closer to who the mysterious serial killer may be. We also see perhaps how Humbert’s faults are even more tied together with his father, who was the Sheriff before him, than we initially thought. There’s a lot going on: a lot of interesting things and some really beautiful art, much like mythic imagery pulled from Westerns or Roger Deakins-level imagery. Some things leave me baffled: who are the mysterious, rich militia that cause a problem that doesn’t remain a problem for long and then disappear? To some degree, it’s things like this, and character development things, that make the stakes feel like you’re squeezing Jell-O. When I try to hold onto any one something, it slips through my grasp. I want to know who the killer is. I want to know what’s driving this world and why there are so many secrets. I want to see if this allegory of violence (which was there in the beginning) holds water in the end. At this point, I’m not sure if the answer or conclusion is going mean a lot on an emotional level for me. I don’t know how those provided answers are going to change anything for the characters. I don’t feel like the scattered information about characters, their backstory, and the secrets being kept are going to be able to coalesce into something bigger. Maybe Kindt and Jenkins have an ace up their sleeve. I wouldn’t put it past them. They have one issue to do it, and my curiosity to see how they do it drives me forward, regardless of my trepidation.

Creative Team: Matt Kindt (story), Tyler Jenkins (art), Hilary Jenkins (colors), Jim Campbell (letters)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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