This issue of Kid Lobotomy at first seems to be much more straightforward than the last installment. It’s supposed to follow and give us background for Ottola, who for all intents and purposes is our leading lady in the story. But right off the bat the waters are muddied. Ottola straight up says “I’m Ottola, and this is my story,” but then there’s an exchange that made me think Rosebud and Ottola are the same person, and then the next page took even that one glimmer of understanding away from me. I’ll spare you the Olympic-gold-winning mental gymnastics that my brain went through for the rest of this issue and say this:
I have kept up with this comic because I have spent a good chunk of my comic-reading life having a lot of fun with Peter Milligan comics. I love his work on Shade, the Changing Man, which is probably one of my favorite runs on a comic ever. I think there’s a certain expectation from Milligan here that everyone is going to give up trying to understand and just assume that there is someone else out there who understands the events of this series. Perhaps that’s the angle here? Maybe I’m supposed to second guess my sanity every time I pick up an issue of this comic. Maybe it’s called Kid Lobotomy for a reason. Right now though, it just feels self-indulgent. How Kafka and King Lear and Brit punk all fit together, I can’t begin to tell you. And this issue did nothing to make me think I could. I feel like I’m being given ‘weird coins’ after every event I don’t understand, but they can’t be cashed in for anything of value.
I may have been a bit harsh in this review, so now I’ll talk about the things I did like. Tess Fowler’s art has been really solid. It’s pretty much the only thing keeping me coming back. It hits the right notes of surreal and messy without going off the rails (unlike the story). It’s very current and grounds the comic in a way that some of the more psychedelic artists would not. If someone like Christian Ward or Frazier Irving did the art on this series, it would make the whole thing too much. The coloring by Lee Loughridge is good, too. I find myself wanting to get the hex code for lots of the colors he uses, especially in this issue. In a way, it balances Fowler’s art well and makes Kid Lobotomy a damn good looking comic.
I liked the first two issues of Kid Lobotomy. It was fun to fall into this world headfirst, to let go of things and just enjoy the insanity, but here we are two issues later, and the novelty has worn off. Maybe everything will come together in the next two issues. Maybe this should have been an OGN or will be better in trades. I would love for this review to be proven wrong because there’s a lot of potential in the creative team, and I want to enjoy Black Crown as the “alternative to the alternative” per its marketing. In the end though, reading this issue felt a lot more like a chore than comic reading should.