Grass Kings #1 Review by Max Mallet
Written by: Matt Kindt
Illustrated by: Tyler Jenkins
Lettered by: Jim Campbell
“There’s written laws and then there’s the other kind.”
In these parts, Boom! Studios has emerged as a publishing favorite among many comic book fans. Matt Kindt (Ninjak, MIND MGMT) and Tyler Jenkins (Neverboy, Peter Panzerfaust) drop the up-and-coming studio’s most recent offering: Grass Kings. This issue shows the promise of a rich story that’s tethered to the restraints of tribalism and history.
Grass Kings takes place in an ordinary, sea-facing town that could be located anywhere from the mid-Atlantic United States to Nova Scotia. Without giving away too much detail, we can approximate this based on Kindt’s display of the land’s history of violence and territory-grabbing. The Grass Kingdom is a self-isolated, somewhat militant town content to shut itself off from the outside world. It’s obvious that Kindt is playing off of an aspect of the so-called, ‘culture wars’ which shapes much of the modern political landscape. Kindt creates a world— and characters within it — that don’t take kindly to strangers and would rather time stand still. It’ll be interesting to see what stereotypes associated with these types of communities (if any) Kindt applies to the main characters in this series. The veteran writer does nice job with crafting characters with clear social motives without turning them into caricatures.
The majority of this first issue comes across as a socio-political commentary. However, the final third or so becomes personal for the town’s leader (or Grass King?). This shows that Grass Kings could tie the delicate knot between making social commentary amidst a deeply personal story. The icing on the cake: issue #1 ends with the promise of mystery.
Jenkins’ pencil-work isn’t hyper-detailed, in fact feeling purposefully abstract. However, he crafts a rustic and rusting world with a subtle color pallet, which drives the emotion in his artwork. Jenkins uses a wide range of delicate colors to illustrate the Grass Kingdom and the bordering ocean.
Verdict: Check it out. Kindt’s writing is tight and smart but not dense. Jenkins’ artwork isn’t going to be for everyone, but his watercolors are arguably Grass Kings‘ greatest asset. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the artist handled both pencil and coloring duties on this issue. If you’re a fan of Kindt or Jenkins, or you want to hop on the Boom! train, this is a great place to do so with a $3.99 32-page first issue.