The hobo road is long, tumultuous and incorporates many trains. Oh, and the devil. At least in Kyle Stark’s latest series from Image Comics, Rock Candy Mountain. After the devil blew a few folks up last issue (which featured in June’s Monthly POP column!) things couldn’t get worse right? Time for prison folks.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
END OF STORY ARC Well, you wouldn’t think it could get any worse for our Hobo Heroes did you? On the run from a swarm of G-Men and the Literal Devil, but well, here we are-trapped like rats in a prison?!?! Oh, what have our Sweet Boys done? How will they get to the legendary Rock Candy Mountain if they’re stuck in the clink? Is this all part of Jackson’s mysterious master plan? Can Pomona Slim survive the harsh confines? We’ll have to see won’t we? Oh yeah, and Jackson fights the entire prison.
Why does this book matter?
Starks has been writing very funny comics for so long now it’s a given you’re going to get a laugh out of one of his books. This series has been wacky, inventive, and filled with hobo fights. If you dug Sexcastle (and we sure did), you will need this series as Starks does not hold back with the comedic violence.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The devil’s #1 no-no.
This issue opens in a calm and friendly manner as Pomona Slim wants to know why Jackson didn’t just use his winnings in the hobo fight club to fly them to their destination. Unfortunately for Pomona, he doesn’t understand the hobo way is a long and winding road. Starks basically changes the genre of this issue, sticking the two heroes into a prison and turning this into a 70’s style prison break/fight comic. The results are pretty darn good, complete with a Oldboy-style sideways view of a fight down a hallway.
Outside of the excellently drawn and colored fight sequence–Chris Schweizer’s colors add a layer to everything, be it night, dusk, or inside–there’s a good arc following Pomona’s outrage with what Jackson has put him through. Who can blame him, especially after a prison guard brutally beats him–and that adds a curveball to their friendship. Starks is clearly building a bond between these characters, even if Pomona is unaware of it and that’s expressed well when Jackson promises to hurt the prison guard who beats Pomona badly.
It’s worth noting readers should really enjoy the layouts Starks employs too. In an excellent layout later in the issue, Starks has panels running down to the left and right of three at the center of the page. On the left is the guards unlocking doors to let prisoners out, on the right the weapons the characters are harboring, and at the center is the progression of prisoners who are making their way to Jackson’s cell. It’s a cool page as it tells multiple elements in a montage like format and it only uses half the page. At the top are the villains getting ready to get Jackson and at the bottom a villain expressing confusion as to why the hallway to Jackson’s cell is so cramped.
It sure took him a long time to say that, eh?
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’ve said it before, but this series can be hilarious at times, and then at others, not so much. I didn’t find myself laughing all that much with this issue; there’s certainly a chuckle here and there, but Starks goes all in with the prison battle and it’s more hot revenge than anything else. The book is always really nice to look at, but much of the first half is all setup for the battle, or introducing new characters. There’s certainly a visual gag or two, but this issue was slower than previous. Plus, it’s missing the excellent supernatural angle of the last issue!
Is It Good?
Another good issue in a series that’s incredibly unique and incredible at telling a visual story. Starks once again shows one of his greatest strengths is beat-em-up fight scenes.