Sunday, December 15, 2013

Comic Review: Bayou (Volumes 1 and 2)

Sorry for the delay guys, for some reason I seem to be stuck working closing shifts all the time at work (I've been home for dinner once in the past seven days, hurray) and once I get home I'm so spent from dealing with prissy holiday retail customers and from dealing with your usual mix of coworkers (some great some not) it's hard to write something that I'm satisfied with. 

As for the actual review, if I had realized that this wasn't the full series I might have chosen not to review it, since my library had two books I just assumed that was all their was. Of course, having done a little research now I can see that the second volume came out in 2011 and there doesn't seem to be any word on when a third volume will be out which is always worrying. I'm fairly sure that volume two isn't supposed to be the final volume not only because I don't see anything saying that it is but also because, well, it's not a good stopping point for a story.

Bayou (volumes one and two) by Jeremy Love

Summary: Lee and her father are sharecroppers in rural Mississippi and life isn't good, or safe, if you're not white. Determined to prove that her father was wrongfully imprisoned Lee goes on a journey to another world to bring back the truth.

The Good: It's not easy to set a story in the historical American South (historical fiction these days is usually defined as stories set pre-1950 but that statement holds true up until at least the 80s) because all of the opposing forces of American culture and politics, especially in regards to personal beliefs and people's rights to exercise them are amplified to the extreme. Therefore it's hard to write a story that acknowledges them, since they are at least on a basic level a part of everyone's life, and Love I feel like greatly succeeds with his refusal to romanticize or attempt to explain roughly Great Depression area Mississippi near New Orleans. With that as a base the rest of the story flows well, in the real world at least, and I did like the mythology he created, it was both old and new and felt really interesting.

The Bad: I believe I've said this before at some point but making a story by re-imagining another, older one is hard. Doing that with a well-known, trickster character is harder yet and I think a large reason why the second volume just didn't sit as well with me was because of Br'er Rabbit. He was so different from the stories I heard as a six or seven year old and in such a way that it felt like Love was trying to be "edgy" not "an alternate look at a well-known character". The story also seems to be setting itself up for a reveal I'm not a very big fan of in fiction, one that I feel like exists to suddenly give another character sympathy without having to do anything and when that appeared in the last few pages it really did sour my mood on the entire story. Other than that, I do feel like the pacing doesn't quite match the plot, in some ways Lee's story has a very tight deadline but the story seems to meander a bit to give the character's more time for, well, meeting other side characters I guess?  

The Art: The art style isn't one I favor, I just don't like the too-soft, as if everything was colored using the gradient tool, art style and the designs were a bit strange as well but there's certainly nothing wrong with it. Although, when you combine the fact that I'm not wild about the art with the fact that I think the story is about to do something I dislike I'm not exactly foaming at the mouth waiting for the next installment.

It's a little hard to rate this, there's not much wrong with the story, aside from the pacing a bit, yet it just didn't connect with me. I think that if I was reading the completed story at once then I probably would have liked it more but again without even a whisper of when the third volume will be out that's not going to happen anytime soon.