Collective Consciousness Grass Kings #1

by stephengervais on March 08, 2017

Welcome back to Collective Consciousness, our weekly article where the staff takes one comic and puts it under the microscope. This allows us, and you, faithful reader, to get a good idea of how the comic fares against a variety of opinions. This week we're taking a look at new series from Boom Studios, Grass Kings #1.
Boom Studios solicit: “...a rural mystery series chronicling the tragic lives of the Grass Kings, three brothers and rulers of a trailer park kingdom, a fiefdom of the hopeless and lost, of the desperate poor seeking a promised land.

Eldest brother Robert leads a grief-stricken life, having lost his daughter to a tragic accident, followed by his wife disappearing one morning never to return. 
When an enigmatic young woman named Maria flees to their community in search of safe haven, Robert takes her in. Will his decision lead to ruin and retribution dooming the Kingdom?”
Written by: Matt Kindt
Art by: Tyler Jenkins
Publisher: Boom Studios
Tony Hsieh
Considering I am completely unfamiliar with the new series Grass Kings, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the premiere issue.  The art was fantastic; while I love my full blown color explosions and pin up characters from the big two, Grass Kings #1 was a more subdued style, with muted colors and character designs similar to one of my favorite artists, Stuart Immonen.  
I'm intrigued by the whole "small, enclosed town with secrets" premise of the book, where the Grass Kingdom will literally have no issues killing anyone from neighboring Cargill if they dared to cross into town.  I'm also quite invested in Robert's backstory involving his daughter and will be looking forward to how that impacts his characters moving forward. 

At first "The Grass Kingdom" sounds like a high fantasy world, but what Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins have created is a far different kind of fantasy. It's a land of true freedoms and 'off the grid' so to speak. In an America where possession and ownership can be more complicated than always necessary, Kindt and Jenkins have taken to creating a world where all that is left at the town borders. 
It's a little bit of a long start to the story, with an exposition on freedoms and ownership- the history and roots of fighting for your possessions. What's immediately captivating is the unique watercolour art style with the soft colours, leaving it easy to let the story flow. The story itself has natural dialogue which like real life isn't always the most engaging, but it serves its purpose of setting up the story that's to follow eventually and it wasn't until the last couple pages where the intricacies of the story truly started to show and started to peak an interest. 
Declan Caviston
Walking into the first issue of Grass Kings is like being left hanging after reading the first chapter of a book, you're left with an unsatisfied feeling.
Grass Kings is filled with a whole lot of nothing. That's to be expected in the first issue of any comic, to be fair. However, when I say nothing... I mean nothing. The first few pages and the last few were really the only pages that caught my eye, the rest just seemed like filler, really. Sure, it established a character here and there, but it was all just mainly dialogue. The issue has literally, pages and pages of "useless" dialogue. 
Perhaps I'm being too hard on the book, but I myself was bored out of my mind reading this. Maybe, instead of the writing, it was the god awful coloring. The illustrations are fairly good, I actually liked them, but the dry, bland colors that fill Grass King's pages don't do the illustrations any justice. 
Combine two and two together and you get a mediocre introduction to what seems like a promising series. At least this issue ends on a good note, pulling the readers in for more, but the issue itself isn't really worth the read, to be perfectly honest.
+Nice art
+Interesting concept
+Mysterious river
-Too much filler 
-Seriously, the coloring is dreadful 
So, overall, if give Grass Kings a:
John White
Grass Kings by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins is the redneck murder mystery mixed with just the right amount of neo-feudalism that you never knew you needed.
Taking place in the fictional Grass Kingdom along the shores of a dark lake, we are introduced to the three brothers; Robert, Bruce, and Ashur. Their family has ruled and protected this own personal fiefdom since the end of World War I, with Robert most recently acting as King.
The majority of the issue revolves around Bruce, the Kingdom’s sheriff, escorting a trespasser from nearby Cargill to their city limits. Why the young man risked his own life to enter the forbidden zone remains to be seen, but with hints of a missing girl and a serial killer on the loose, I am sure its reveal with add layers of drama to the subsequent issues.
Overall this is a strong issue that reveals just enough of this strange society to leave readers intrigued, and hints just enough of a sinister underbelly to keep that anyone looking for a good mystery will certainly be in for a treat.
This was an interesting read for me. I didn't like the story as I was reading it, but I found myself more invested in the story after we meet the Robert character. He is teased throughout the issue and we get to see a bit of his backstory by the end of it, which greatly fascinated me. His backstory also seems to be related to the overall premise of the book, which is a sort of murder mystery/missing girl case by the looks of it.
The art was fine. Tyler Jenkins did the art, and it didn't have a discernable style to warrant the way it looked. It made for some good visual storytelling, as the writer Matt Kindt allowed for his dialogue to go away and let what we saw do the talking.
Re-reading the issue is something I recommend. The first few pages are dedicated to the history of the Grass Kingdom, which is where the book is set. Its history is varied and bloody, and the implications of the ending made me like the issue much more after reading it again. Sheriff Cargill, the man who seems to be investigating Robert and his brother Bruce, is attempting to bring justice to a seemingly lawless land. Given this, I feel like I would follow the story and pick up the next issue to see what unfolds.
Jason James
Grass Kings was an odd little story from Matt Kindt. I enjoyed the book as a whole. Kindt is the kind of comic book writer that I love to read long term, but hate to read just one issue of because he seems to have a Hansel and Gretel style of story telling with bread crumbs being left for you to follow issue by issue to the greater story arch. This is great long term but leads to a reading that can be a bit lacking for a single issue. I love the art, the backgrounds are beautifully done and overall the art has a kind of story book look to it that I really liked.

Forrest Hollingsworth
Kindt, a master of intricate, concise and carefully-chosen dialogue, throws us into a new character-driven world here in this introductory look at the Grass Kingdom. It’s a beautiful issue, one that tries to accomplish a lot of things and mostly succeeds but also expects almost too much out of readers who might just have a passing interest in the story.
The kingdom itself, as well as its inhabitants: vagabonds and deeply private people, living “off-grid” and in accordance with their own laws, are depicted in an astonishingly realized effort from both Kindt and Jenkins – a watercolor world brought to life. Dialogue is natural, layered and revealing as is the art. However, there’s a lot to take in. Too much, if we’re being honest. Characters make references to things off-frame, backstory is extolled through simple lines, and the main story is lost somewhere in the fray until it comes together again in the final few pages.
It’s not a total detraction of course, to visit this fully realized world in its apparent entirety, but it is an overwhelming first issue. Both in a good way and bad. 

Our Score:


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