Change, by Ales Kot, artwork by Morgan Jeske, Sloane Leong and Ed Brisson
"Los Angeles was Atlantis once, and it's set to become the drowned city again. The people who might be able to stop it from becoming a myth are an unruly bunch - a disconnected, ridiculously wealthy rapper W-2, an angry screenwriter-turned-car thief Sonia, a mysterious astronaut coming back to Earth from Mars*, and a deranged stranger with a completely different story to tell. Against them: insane cultists, rogue National Security Agency operators, something large and terrible in the Ocean, and time itself. No pressure."
*Description is inaccurate- the astronaut is returning from Europa.
I picked this up on a whim because in flipping through it at the comic book store, it appeared to be a weird story centering around the Cthulhu mythos, and I'm a Lovecraft nerd. So, of course I had to read it.
Well, I wasn't wrong. This is weird and it is Lovecraftian, but it's even more bizarre than I had expected.
The good stuff first-
This comic goes right to the heart of the terror of any Lovecraft work. What were the elder gods, really? Chaos, destruction, and the symbol of the rebirth of the world- a world that humans are a fleeting and inconsequential part of. Cthulhu and his ilk are chaos made flesh, given tentacles and thousands of eyes and other forms that cause us to quake with fear, but their physical forms are just visual aids to allow us to see the horror that is our own mortality and our terrible insignificance on a cosmic scale.
Change does a similar thing. As Lovecraft was engrossed in the fantastic world he had created, so are these characters. Sonia, a comic and screenplay writer is a prophet, and the other cast of characters seem to be caught in the drama that she envisions. But she is not the cause of the chaos, simply a person who had tapped into it. W-2, the rapper is caught in a dream of a life- is anything he knows true, or is he just a pawn to bring about the end and rebirth of all things? It's hard to say. The astronaut is an outside observer to the current chaos, but his memories of life haunt him. All of the players in this piece are stuck in a cycle of creation and destruction, and so the comic itself is chaos and madness, and extremely clever and fun to read and dissect on an intellectual level. And all the while, the artwork is something else to be thoroughly enjoyed- gritty and urban. Disturbing images blend with comical moments that build the sense of insanity in a masterful way.
All of that madness and chaos makes this hard to read, and although there is a story here, it is loose and scattered and feels like an acid trip. I frankly don't think many people will enjoy it. That doesn't mean it's not worthy of being enjoyed, but this isn't going to appeal to the masses. It's probably too weird for most people, and if they don't understand Lovecraft, this probably won't resonate with them anyway.
So, I guess the bottom line is this- if you like bizarro, trippy movies, like Brazil or Being John Malkovich- stuff like that, this might be up your alley, just for the sheer mindf*ck. If you are a die-hard Lovecraft fan, you also may really like this. Otherwise, you may be disappointed. For me, I fall into both of those categories, so I really thought this was pretty cool. I give it four stars.