Review – Rock Candy Mountain #7 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Kyle Starks
Colourist: Chris Schweizer
Release Date: 3rd January 2018

The penultimate chapter of Kyle Starks’ hobo kung fu epic Rock Candy Mountain is on sale now, as Jackson’s quest to reach the mythical (or is it?) hobo heaven nears its conclusion.

Honestly, if you’ve spoken to me at all over the last nine months or so, I’ve probably already told you how much I love this series. Heck, it was one of my Top 5 Comics of 2017, for chrissakes.  As such, it probably goes without saying, but this latest issue sees Starks delivering more of the same eclectic mix of hobo charm and old-school kung fu insanity that I’ve grown to love so much over the first six issues.

Jackson and Slim’s friendship comes full circle here, and while we do get a bit of the same kind of humour that always seems to come hand-in-hand with Slim, Starks does an excellent job of dialling back the silliness just a little for what actually ends up being a fairly heartfelt exchange between the two.

While Jackson continues to carry the weight of the narrative, it’s once again the supporting characters who help lend the series its real charm. From Babs Bardoux to Big Sis to the Hobo Mafia – Johnny Dean in particular – each character is brilliantly unique, packed with personality and, in a lot of cases, loaded with raw comedy potential.

The first part of the two-part finale sees all our key players converging on the Gehenna Train Yard – a place we discover during the opening pages to not have a particularly friendly attitude towards hobos – for a knock-down drag-out slobberknocker of near-biblical proportions.  Starks is clearly having an absolute blast with this story, and his raw passion for this project practically seeps out of the pages as the hobos, train yard workers and feds collide in a fantastic double-page spread that series as one of my personal highlights of the series so far.  Seriously, it’s amazing.

The rest of the book is packed with the same deceptively straightforward style that Starks has built his career on, and while it may be easy to look at the rough, chaotic style and think that he’s just slapping these panels down as quickly as they pop into his head, there’s actually an incredibly nuanced level of storytelling at play here, from subtle facial expression shifts to some beautifully choreographed violence.

As always, Chris Schweizer’s colours prove every bit as integral as Starks’ artwork in the telling of the story, from the glow of the magic spear to the black-and-white of the flashback sequences. The Gehenna Train Yard is suitably washed out and run-down, allowing the characters to stand out clearly against the pale backdrop, and the frequent sprays of blood are brought to life in a rich, visceral crimson.  Oh, and Starks and Schweizer also combine for an absolutely inspired penultimate page, with the subtle shift in colour and change in an arrow’s direction speaking volumes about just what the final issue will hold.

At the end of the day, Rock Candy Mountain remains one of the absolute best things on the shelves today, and while this issue may not necessarily be the best place to jump on the series for the first time, there’s absolutely no excuse not to go and pick up the first trade right now – assuming you haven’t done so already. Seriously, you can thank me later.

Rating: 4.5/5.

[Click to Enlarge]

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.

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