Review – Grass Kings #9 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tyler Jenkins, Hilary Jenkins (colours)
Release Date: 8th November 2017

The murder mystery at the heart of the second arc of Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ Grass Kings is in full swing, and this latest issue sees Kindt shine the light on two more residents of the Kingdom as youngsters Ashur and Pinball to a little digging of their own into the death of Ms. Handel.  After overhearing the disconcerting conversation between Johann and Pike at the end of the last issue, the pair’s investigation sees them checking in with several different members of the community, all with one eye on the clock before their gig later in the evening.

While it perhaps doesn’t quite have the same spark of the previous issue which focused on Pike’s traumatic back-story, this latest chapter does feel like it pushes the overall story forwards a lot more confidently.  Ashur and Pinball provide a markedly different perspective on the Grass Kingdom than their grown-up counterparts, and their investigations here go a long way towards uncovering the identity of Ms. Handel’s killer — as well as revealing a brand new mystery which looks set to have some far-reaching and violent implications.

Kindt’s pedigree as a storyteller should be pretty much unquestioned at this point in his career, and the way he deftly moves all the different pieces on his board here makes for a thoroughly engaging read.  This second arc is gradually drawing back the veil on the supporting cast of characters in the Kingdom, and the way Kindt is structuring things so far – framing each issue from a different character’s perspective while still following the same storyline thread – is a fantastic narrative choice.

Tyler Jenkins continues to be one of my favourite artists working in the comics industry today, with a scratchy, watercolour style that really fits like a glove on a story like this.  Yes, the detail may not be immaculate, with an incredibly stripped-down approach used for certain panels, but the overall aesthetic is still utterly compelling, and the way he keeps the story flowing smoothly displays just as much narrative excellence as Kindt – no small feat, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Packed with great character development and several compelling mysteries that all seem to be intertwined within the same small, insular community, Grass Kings continues to be an absolutely gripping read. It’s the latest in a long line of comics that feel like like they would work perfectly as TV shows, but vitally, Grass Kings feels like it’s being written as a comic book first, rather than as an extended small-screen pitch.  Highly, highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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