REVIEW: Change #2

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How do you describe a book like Change? A Lovecraft-inspired love letter to the city of Los Angeles featuring a rapper, a screenwriter, a doomed astronaut and possibly Cthulhu himself? Major Spoilers tries to make sense of Change #2, or at least review it.

change2coverCHANGE #2 (of 4)
(Writes) Ales Kot
(Draws) Morgan Jeske
(Colors) Sloane Leong
(Makes The Letters Look Pretty) Ed Brisson
(Colored The Cover) Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99

Previously, in Change: LA is being threatened with an aquatic invasion from a shadow in the ocean. The (excellently named) rapper W-2 is having difficulties getting a script finalized for his prospective film, W-2 Versus Lovecraft. Failed screenwriter Sonia Bjornquist is under surveillance by strange and delirious cultists. And all is observed by an astronaut returning to Earth, and none of it is as linear as I describe.

WHA….?

Change is one of those books that is hard to describe. The plot is packed with so many elements, but in a loose, free-form narrative that it comes across like a fever dream. At certain times, the story seems to settle into a simple narrative groove, before the script and art shatter into pieces, leaving the reader with little idea how to place them back together. The simplest plot description would be a Lovecraftian riff on LA living in the modern age, but it is really quite a bit better than that sounds.

Ales Kot’s script is difficult, but Change does not read like it is difficult for difficulty’s sake. There is an ambition here, a desire to play with the art form of comics that is understandably rare. This sort of work can come off as pretentious, but Kot hasn’t forgotten to make this story fun (and funny). This issue has W-2 and Sonia escaping from murderous cultists, flashes forward and back, a human being dissolving piece by component piece. Someone drives a car through a wall, two people fall in love, and the fabric of time seems to be stretched at the seams. This story does not always make sense, but it is a hell of a journey.

UNCONVENTIONAL TALENTS

I haven’t seen Morgan Jeske’s art before, but I am digging what he is selling. His human figures have a rough, attenuated look akin that reminds me of Peter Chung’s work on Aeon Flux or Reign: The Conqueror, albeit less stylized. His layouts work well with Kot’s script, artfully working to disorient and fracture the reader’s experience. There is an energy at play in Jeske’s pages that makes Change work. It’s trippy, it’s horrifying, and if it were a more conventional artist, this book wouldn’t have the same visceral impact at all.

BOTTOM LINE: WILL NOT APPEAL TO ALL, BUT IT SURE APPEALS TO ME

Change is a difficult book. But it never forgets that it is entertainment – there is always something interesting and strange going on. It never collapses under the weight of its own pretension – the ending of this issue alone is ambitious enough to put up with any near-purple prose. As it is, sometimes I enjoy being confused and sometimes I feel like the writer is just screwing with me; some of Grant Morrison’s work has fallen into the latter camp lately, but Change is definitely of the former. When it’s all over, I think I will enjoy piecing all this together. Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske are newcomers with energy, verve and bravery, but they work together with the confidence of old pros.  While this might not be a comic that everyone enjoys, it’s not intended to be a comic that everyone enjoys. Image should be congratulated for putting out a work like this, and the creators should be congratulated for having the daring to make it in the first place. Change #2 earns a deserved four and a half out of five stars. If you’re willing to take the plunge, this comic is well worth the dive.

Rating: ★★★★½

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