Review: Wild ChildrenA comic review article by: David Fairbanks
It's July, 2012 and the lie of the DC/Marvel binary is falling to pieces in comic shops across the world. The masses are embracing the realization that comics are part of a continuum that encompasses everything and nothing to varying degrees in how many languages and countries and art styles and genres and across who knows how many publishers.
While the contributions of Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Archaia, MonkeyBrain and many others are not to be discounted, Image seems to be the company most frequently behind the wrecking ball, shipping out hit after hit. This week, I'm practically expecting Eric Stephenson to cry out "See! Now! Our sentence is up." in his best Scouse accent as Wild Children ships to comic shops and out into your hands.
Does all of that read like nonsense? Let me give you some background, first:
The Invisibles started in September of 1994 and ran until June 2000, across three volumes, culminating in what is one of the best conclusions to a series I have ever experienced (and in a one-shot, no less). The Invisibles is cyclical. Each read through builds on your personal experience and knowledge as you spiral inward (or outward) into the essence of it.
It's dense as hell, not in the Brian Michael Bendis talking heads way, but rather in the "how many ridiculous ideas does Morrison just toss out there" kind of way. The only thing I've read that even comes close is The Filth, Morrison's dark mirror to the optimism laced throughout The Invisibles.
That is, until now.
Wild Children has received praise from no less than three other Davids (Aja, Hine and Mack), Douglas Rushkoff, Jhonen Vasquez and others. It's a comic book's comic book, telling a story that no other medium could easily duplicate. It is the thematic sequel to Morrison's epic that I never dreamed possible.
Ales Kot brings us the story of what could very well be another group of Invisibles as they overtake a high school to re-educate the teachers. The goal of our protagonists is a simple and admirable one: teach teachers to encourage free thought rather than simply regurgitation of old ideas. And they're going to do it by showing them just how beautiful and surreal the world they live in is, by showing them that they should love the next generation instead of fear and condescend toward it. And maybe by slipping them some LSD.
The opposition to the reeducation is one of establishment and authority: police who believe the children to be terrorists. You can't really blame them, considering that the kids took over a school with what appears to be heavy ammunition and are broadcasting their revolution into the Internet (and into your hands).
Riley Rossmo delivers his usual artistic style, a bit sharper than his work on Cowboy Ninja Viking or Proof but still loose when it needs to be. The fluidity with which he portrays action is enviable, going from clean line work to a quick, slightly messy sketch as a page transitions from the beginnings of philosophical conversation to onomatopoeia-infused action.
While Kot brings the ideas and footnotes that will necessitate multiple later readings and Rossmo serves up some spectacular line work, Gregory Wright's colors are magical, blurring the line between acid trip and metafictional awareness. I can't remember the last time where the colorist played such a pivotal role in the execution of the narrative as Wright does here.
Wild Children is a story laden with messages and ideas that practically demand you sit down with a pad and pen and Wikipedia. From the dissolution of the self to arguments for and against free will to references to English alternative rock and comics series and blog posts, there's quite a lot to devour. Like the greatest stories, though, even if you know none of the allusions, Wild Children is still one wild ride.
I could try to describe it all to you, but really it's something that needs to be experienced.
David Fairbanks doesn't get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an "adult," whatever that is.