If I had to make a list of the worst comics I’ve ever read, this one would definitely be in the top five.
It starts with a bunch of kids on the last day of their high school visiting an animal-research-center-slash-theme-park. Pun intended. Turns out the place has been running experiments on sloths, the kind that turns them from docile, slow-moving herbivores to feral murderers. When they get loose, what you end up with is one of those bad slasher movies with ample gore and a bunch of edgy teens thrown in the mix.
Where do I even begin? From my strictly limited understanding of comic book narration, you can often tell the quality of a comic by its first few panels. The beginning is the most important from a storytelling perspective, especially because it’s pretty much your orientation programme. That’s when you draw the reader in and maybe give them some kind of context about what’s going on. If your beginning is abrupt and legibly jarring, chances are you’re not making a good first impression. This one begins with the teens getting off the bus, and the words they utter in the first three panels are packed with slang. The try hard kind of slang that would probably even make you back up and read the whole thing again.
A few examples:
“Don’t make me vom.”
“I could be tagging nuts on the school sign right now.”
I get it. They’re hippie teens who probably use ‘sumfink’ and ‘sike’ like they’re part of the official dictionary. But imagine starting a story with two guys talking like this: “Say Bob, what’s the deal with the hootscoot, yo?”
“Just the beer, man. It’s rad, and I got two tanks up in my gut.”
“That’s a dopeass way to get kicked out the door, is all.”
Thankfully, it gets better after that. Moving on.
So Carlos A.K.A. fat Daniel LaRusso and his friend LJ get off the bus and that’s when you get your first look at the park entrance. “Hi. Eden Rare here” a woman wearing glasses and a white lab coat greets the students on a large screen. Who is she? The owner? Institute Director? Head Researcher? No one knows, and we are never told. All we know is she’s the bigwig in this whole sloth experiment. And then we have the sloths. For some reason, the animals are on a mission to slaughter just about everything in their vicinity. Not from drug-induced madness, but a very obvious evil intent. They thrust ice cream cones into eyes sockets, wait until you get close and slash your face before making a dramatic entry, and grin at you while spinning a severed head on their claw like a pro basketballer. Gives you a fair idea of what would happen if Wolverine got off the wrong side of the bed on a Monday morning. I mean, even the text cue for their slashing noise is the word ‘snikt’. I honestly can’t tell if they were supposed to be more funny or more terrifying.
But apart from that one scene with the disemboweled teacher in the bathroom, I didn’t feel my eyes widen when anyone got killed or shredded apart. Maybe because the characters hardly have any ‘character’, or any semblance of relatable emotion. During the first couple of pages, you have Carlos fawning over this blonde girl and even planning to ask her out. Pretty sure seeing her decapitated head later on would at least evoke a strong reaction in him, at least by virtue of friendship if not infatuation. But no, all he does is run like it was just another random death. And then forget about her and the way she died completely. And this is how almost all character interaction takes place. A bunch of school kids see around two dozen people getting opened up like tin cans, including some they spent a decent amount of school time with, and there’s barely any real sense of dread or trauma in any of them. Almost like this is just another adventure. It even ends with them riding the bus into the sunset, cracking jokes, going “So what’s everybody doing after high school?” The comic doesn’t even establish whether it’s supposed to be a horror comedy, so at least there can be some way to excuse this braindead tale. And that’s the whole problem with the narration. The artwork is actually quite clean and decent, almost enjoyable. But the plot feels like it was written by a group of fifth graders as a hobby project. The worldbuilding is abysmal. Too many rather important details aren’t even clarified or even mentioned in passing. I understand this is just part one of a potentially larger body of work, but there’s a difference between leaving certain questions unanswered and not bothering to develop the story at all.
In fact, there are too many things I want to touch upon here, but perhaps reviewing it further isn’t really worth my time.
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