(Monkeybrain Comics, 2013)
Review by Brad Gischia
Written by Greg Pak
Based on the songs of Jonathan Coulton
Pencils and Inks by Takeshi Miyazawa
Colors by Jessica Kholinne
Letters by Simon Bowland
(Cue deep and gravelly voiced announcer) “In a world…where zombie armies roam, where animated dolls creep into your nighttime bedroom, where giant alien squids hover over your town like a baby Cthulu…don’t look to your boss, don’t look to the government, look to…Code Monkey!” (Cue dramatic film score, sweeping shots of zombies and dolls, perhaps a CGI tentacle…Zoom in on one small monkey in pants and button down shirt, wearing glasses.)
Pardon my dramatization, but this is what Greg Pak has done to me. He is known for his work on The Incredible Hulk and Hercules. Batman/Superman and Action Comics. But with his current book at Monkeybrain he has joined what seems to be a newer trend in comics, one that is revolting against the dark and disturbing story lines and going back to the fun and amazing. Why can’t a sentient monkey have a thing for the secretary? Why can’t he save the world?
The comic is based on Jonathan Coulton’s song “Code Monkey” and takes its’ cues right from the lyrics, down to the secretary he (Code Monkey) loves, Matilde, and his boss, Rob. It is worth a listen, and the song can be seen on YouTube, as well as a bunch of Coulton’s other musical offerings.
But there the similarities end. Code Monkey is violently thrown into the world when Laura the Robo-Queen attacks his workplace and takes Matilde hostage and back to her slave colony. There is some strange interplay between Code Monkey’s boss, Skullcrusher, a multi-millionaire software developer, and Laura, unrequited love, which taints Skullcrusher and embitters him towards Laura.
The government is not silent. According to Agent B-12 they’ve had a “rough” year, what with the zombie outbreaks and animated killer dolls, and with the latest crisis involving Laura they decide that their one hope is a man from Minnesota. A curler named Jorgensen in a very warm-looking sweater.
Takeshi Miyazawa has brought a manga feel to the artwork that is just different enough from the mainstream to make it fun to look at and complimentary to the tone of the story. He is able to convey, on a monkey’s face mind you, a range of emotion that helps to humanize Charles…did I mention the monkey’s name is Charles…and let’s us know that despite his limited vocabulary, he is more human than most of the other characters that surround him. Jessica Kholinne’s colors add to the manga feel, grounding the art firmly and adding depth and a character all it’s own.
Issue #3 is just around the corner. Laura has Matilde, Skullcrusher nee Vijay has called a meeting of Villainy Affiliated, LLC, and Agent B-12 and Jorgensen are hatching up some plan to save the people enslaved by Laura.
How long can I continue to read comic books about monkeys you may be asking? As long as they’re coming from the good people at Monkeybrain and written by incredible people like Greg Pak, a long, long time.
Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter: @comicwasteland