(W/A) Brandon Dayton
Deciding between what’s right and wrong is not the easiest task. Try deciding between morals when it comes to deciding between yourself and your community. That’s what Alexei goes through in the new comic, Green Monk: Blood of the Martyrs by Brandon Dayton.
Alexei is a boy who grows in up in a Russian Orthodox monastery after he was brought there by a nun. The nun was a survivor of a raid from tribes in the mountains with Alexei in her arms. Right before her death, her last wish was to have Alexei baptized. From there, Alexei grew up under the monks’ tutelage. One day, he sees a group of children beating a deer with a stick. Alexei takes action by getting revenge on the children only to be chastised by the head monk. From then on, Alexei faces an internal battle as he drawn into a world where Pagan spirits encourage him to fight beyond the words of God for all people.
As a non-Christian, there are several visual metaphors throughout the story I do not understand. They are incredibly beautiful to look at and appreciate. But I’m a bit disappointed that I have to Google search references to understand underlying themes throughout the story. To say the least, this was my favorite part of the story. It was able to capture a mystical atmosphere that was not fluffy whatsoever. I was taken to a world where I was graced with the presence of mysterious spirits. The story takes place in 11th century Russia and this provided a nice history lesson in terms of understanding what was going on during the time period. While all of the scenes weren’t pretty to look at, they provided historical lessons for what the people were experiencing for that era.
The characters in the story were alright. I didn’t like Alexei so much because of his personality. He was a stereotypical boy who grew up in a religious time period. He was very modest and had a giant hero complex that could not be crushed. I preferred seeing the actions he took when trying to face his internal battle of following the church as opposed to following spirits “beyond” God’s will. The only other “interesting” character was the head monk of the monastery. While he follows the stereotype of a strict leader, he does care about Alexei so much. Throughout the book, I’ve seen him break out of his principled mind and learn to enjoy the moments he has with Alexei. Just like Alexei, the head monk has a terrible personality set up, but his actions make up for his bad personality.
The art was very pleasant to look at with an almost angular, “brick” style artwork. The colors matched the emotional moods throughout the story and I found myself emulating with the colors rather than the characters themselves. Overall, a stunning piece to read with a few panels that made a gasp in surprise. Brandon Dayton did a wonderful job balancing the real world and the mystical world Alexei faces.
I’m really pleased that I got a chance to read this comic before it came out. The mystical world draws readers to the edge of something unknown. Readers will get to enjoy the visual metaphors hidden throughout the book. Plus the plots built throughout the story are engaging and do not suffocate a reader down one path. To get a copy of this story, click on the link here for more information.