In Strange Fruit, the mystery man from the sky learns how to read and do math, all while still clad in his purloined Confederate flag. Is it good?
Strange Fruit #2 (BOOM! Studios)
The strange happenings in Chatterlee, Mississippi continue from the last issue: the rain is still falling, levees straining against the flood, and the strange man from the sky is walking the town with his flag loincloth. The townsfolk are disturbed when he walks into the public library and begins to read, never saying a word.
Mr. McCoy, the civil engineer working on the levee problem, shows his solution to the senator, which of course is problematic: to run a spillway through the Lantry plantation.
No one is allowed to be naked in the library, so the giant man is taken to jail, leaving behind advanced mathematics scratched into the floor. In the jail he is reunited with Sonny, then Sonny is reunited with the Klan, who decide the best way to get info about a missing boy is to beat the crap out of Sonny. The black men in the cells call to the giant man for help, and he responds by bursting through the prison wall, releasing all the inmates.
The Klansman are far from happy about this, but it’s Mr. McCoy who comes up with an idea – the way to unite the workers is to get the silent giant man on their side, working to shore up the levee.
Is It Good?
I went into this second issue with high hopes; I felt the first issue had a lot of promise and specifically hoped that there would be improvements on character development and giving more depth to the story. Unfortunately, this issue didn’t address any of those issues. We didn’t get any more information on any of these characters, and the story feels like it is coasting along.
The biggest problem is that there are so many characters and we haven’t been given any reason to care about any of them; we got less character development in this issue than the first. There are tantalizing hints of the giant alien’s past, but his almost entirely blank expression and lack of speech don’t build on these flashes.
The art in the book is still beautiful, but the painting style and the huge attention to detail makes many of the panels feel static. There are moments of energy, but I especially wanted more from the giant alien’s face. We get it all into that one panel at the end and it feels like too little too late.
I noted in my review of the first issue that the book focused mostly on the white characters and that I hoped we’d get more screen time on the black characters in the town. That didn’t happen in this issue and that’s a problem.
I’m planning on sticking with this book, but I’m disappointed in how the book seems to be shaping as the story progresses. Jones and Waid had huge ambitions with this book, but I can’t see them finishing this story in four issues.