Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Kyle Starks
Colourist: Chris Schweizer
Release Date: 8th November 2017
The second arc of Kyle Starks’ critically acclaimed kung-fu hobo series Rock Candy Mountain kicks off early next month. However, rather than picking up the story right where we left it a few months ago, we are instead treated to the dramatic origin story of Jackson, the World’s Toughest Hobo.
We get to see a little of Jackson’s family life before he ends up being grudgingly drafted into World War II, and rather than the curmudgeon-of-few-words we all know and love, we actually get to see a little of his compassionate, loving side throughout the course of this issue.
One thing that’s particularly noticeable here is the fact that Starks has dialed the humour way back. That’s not to say there aren’t some smiles to be had along the way, and the onomatopoeia is still some of the best in the business (“wreckt” indeed), but when you’re telling the story of a man with as tragic a history as Jackson, there’s really no point in making a joke out of it.
We find out a little about the mysterious artefact he carries with him and how it came into his possession in the first place, as well as watching him take his first tentative steps into the world of the hobo. It’s also once again apparent just how much research Starks has done into hobo culture, and there’s a sense of authenticity to the dialogue and slang here that really helps the series to resonate.
Once again, Starks’ artwork proves to be some of the most striking and original in the business today. Yes, his untidy style and apparent lack of detail may alienate some readers, but there’s just something about the way it all flows – particularly during the frequent action sequences – that really belies its straightforward appearance. The violence is brutal without feeling too excessive or gratuitous (a byproduct of the stripped-down style), and there’s a wonderful sense of pacing throughout the issue, with the panel-per-page count rapidly rising once the fists and feet start flying.
Chris Schweizer once again handles the colouring duties, and while he isn’t given quite as many opportunities to flex his creative muscle here, there are two sequences – one where Jackson makes his deal with the devil, and the other where his life is derailed in the most heartbreaking way imaginable – where Schweizer’s visual storytelling chops really shine through.
If you somehow missed out on the first arc of this series, then you really need to rectify that as quickly as possible. Rock Candy Mountain is the cult classic martial arts movie you didn’t realise you were missing out on until right now. It’s also a book I can’t recommend highly enough, so make sure to grab your bindle and get ready to ride the rails when it goes on sale this November.
If you want to find out more about Rock Candy Mountain, make sure to check out our interview with creator Kyle Starks by CLICKING HERE.
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