Can Cannabis cure our societal ailments? Will THC be the key to worldwide harmony? Can overt drug references keep this drug-induced dirigible afloat? Prepare your bag of potato chips, grab your hookah (if you’re of age and inclined to participate in that sort of thing) and take the jump to find out!
Ziggy Marley’s Marijuana Man
Created By: Ziggy Marley
Written By: Joe Casey
Art & Lettering: Jim Mahfood
Colors & Design: Justin Stewart
Executive Producer: Tom Martin
Published By: Image Comics
Origin Story: Marijuana Man is from a planet far, far away. He’s transported to earth in a rocket ship that bears an uncanny resemblance to a bong tobacco water pipe. He has powers far beyond those of mortal man, thanks to the fact that his alien biology is comprised of THC, rather than DNA. In addition, our hero is a pacifist who is inclined to actively elude conflict. The final component of our character stems (heh, see what I did there?) from the communal connection he shares with all plant life. He stands alone as the world’s only hope against the evil, megalomaniacal corporation Pharma-Con. They construct synthetic pleasure-inducing pharmaceuticals, allowing Pharma-Con to maintain a monopoly over the prescription medication industry. Guess who’s the only individual capable of effecting change. Why, it’s Marijuana Man, of course!
Smoke ‘em If You Got ‘em
I have to imagine that without the benefit of Ziggy Marley’s pedigree, this book wouldn’t have been a heavily promoted hardcover release that’s been in the press since it’s announcement at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con. I can’t help but question the value of this purchase. $24.99 a 48-page oversized hardcover is steep. So steep that I wonder if perhaps the marketing team at Image may have ingested an oversized plate of specialized brownies at the time of the book’s conception. In order to command a price tag of that magnitude, discerning buyers will need to make a hard investment decision; is this book worth it?
Mahfood’s Art Is An Organic Match For Material
While a perfectly enjoyable read, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking going on within these pages. Artist Jim Mahfood’s quirky, street-level approach to the graphic arts is an inspired choice for this book. His page layouts and artistic style is a strong match for Marijuana Man’s subject matter. The art is highly stylized, graffiti-inspired, and infused with a wide color palate. It’s safe to say that Mahfood’s pencils don’t represent traditional comic art. For some this may not be a good thing. My only critique of the art is during moments of action, where it’s difficult to discern what exactly is going on within the panels.
Superman + Swamp Thing + Miracleman = Marijuana Man
Writer Joe Casey is an adept storyteller, a journeyman of sorts when it comes to the world of comics. He’s known to tackle all manner of subject matter, so it’s no surprise that he’s chosen to mine the strata of established comics lore in order to construct Marijuana Man. Equal parts Superman and Swamp Thing, there is also a bit of Miracleman thrown into the recipe. The Miracleman connection is much more subtle than the other two characters. Our protagonist requires a physical catalyst to inspire his transformation into Marijuana Man (someone needs to blow marijuana smoke into his face) and he maintains a distant, detached personality that makes it difficult to relate to his contemporaries.
The rest of the plot is paint-by-numbers. There is a female love interest and the reluctant hero must step forward to face his destiny by fighting against the villain, etc. Overt drug references abound with only a few that could be considered more than just casually clever. The main example being the 4/20 release date of the book. Exactly how much input Marley exhaled into the project is unknown. His celebrity cult status undoubtedly helped get this project green lit, especially at the book’s enhanced scope as a pricey, Hardcover OGN.
Bottom Line: An Expensive Experiment
If this were an oversized, 48 page $5.99 floppy, I’d encourage the Major Spoilerites to give it a try if you’re looking for something outside of the box. However, at the inflated price point, consumers should preview the contents before sparking the bowl, so to speak. Marijuanaman is a fun exercise and if your budget allows for it, you may want to take a hit – Marijuanaman earns 2.5 out of 5 Stars.