In KING OF NOWHERE #4 Galvin the scientist lays it all out for Denis. Product of a nuclear experiment by the government, the people of Nowhere go about their lives unaware that reality has warped for them. But will the government be happy their secrets are being spilled? Read this Major Spoilers review to find out!
KING OF NOWHERE #4
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Tyler Jenkins
Colorist: Hilary Jenkins
Letterer: Andworld Design
Editor: Eric Harburn
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: August 5th, 2020
Previously in KING OF NOWHERE: When Denis stumbles across the town of Nowhere in the company of a man with the head of a deer, we immediately understand that things are very, very wrong. Over time, Denis begins to get hints of understanding, but it is only when the remorseful scientist Galvin Chow shows up that he, and we, begin to understand the full scope of the monstrosity committed on the people of Nowhere.
If I had writer W. Maxwell Prince’s imagination, I’d be locked up. From the endless nightmare that is THE ICE-CREAM MAN and now to KING OF NOWHERE, he has demonstrated a twisted imagination married with the ability to write spikey, off the wall dialogue that is as illuminating as it is obscure.
Denis has stumbled upon the town of Nowhere, where the people have been weirdly transmogrified, and seem unaware of the oddness of their situations. Thinking he is on yet another massive bender, he discovers that some sort of hitman has been dispatched to clean house. It is only when he is buttonholed by a man claiming to be a government scientist does Denis begin to get an inkling of what is going on.
At times KING OF NOWHERE #4 feels a little like an X-Files episode, with a strange town full of stranger people being menaced by G-Men eager to tidy up the spilling of secrets in the most lethal manner. But Prince’s writing, with its elliptical phrasing and at times, haiku feel, really transports it and changes it into something else – at times menacing, at times lyrica – that captivates the reader in a way I’ve not seen before.
The framing device, set decades earlier which explains why Nowhere is the town it has become, is full of scattered narration that presents experiences of flashes of color or taste, as the experiment takes hold of the town. We get to see the effects of the experiment from Day One, and see how some of the characters first appeared, especially a very young Sheriff of Nowhere. As origin stories go, it is weird and spooky and wryly amusing.
ENTER, A MAN WITH A PENCIL
Of course KING OF NOWHERE #4 would be nothing without the fine artwork of Tyler Jenkins and coloring by Hilary Kenkins. Tyler Jenkins caught my eye with his work on BLACK BADGE, and he returns here with the opportunity to craft some truly arresting images with his unique ability. The range of his talent and imagination is given full rein here, as a kaleidoscope of transformed humanity appears on panel throughout the issue. Take your pick – whether it is fish headed men and women, or a man turning into a tree, lizard handed women or even just a dog with two tails – Jenkins brings it all vividly to life. The amazing thing is that while populating Nowhere with all manner of weirdness, Jenkins makes it seem as domestic as possible. The people of the town go about their normal day and it all seems to fit without comment or freakout. There’s a depth to the characters he accomplishes with just a few strokes of the pen. All this is ably brought to colorful life by Hilary Jenkins. The palette is washed out, which helps make Nowhere seem resolutely ordinary, when a more vibrant choice of colors might’ve made things seem too unreal. Instead, the more sombre tones add their own unreal reality to proceedings, make the strange normal, and in turning, upping the sense of reality unmoored.
BOTTOM LINE: WEIRD TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
In KING OF NOWHERE #4, Prince always aims to unbalance the reader. We can see the strangeness of Nowhere on every page, but for the most part, the inhabitants think everything is normal. Even when Galvin Chow is explaining the town’s history, Denis always makes a comment that seems to indicate he believes none of it, or the explanation can be found at the bottom of the barrel. It is this willingness to explain everything and then undercut it that gives KING OF NOWHERE #4 its powerful punch.
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King of Nowhere #4
KING OF NOWHERE #4 is where everything is explained, and yet, nothing is explained. We know how Nowhere came to be, but never really why. Denis seems to be the hero of proceedings, but he never really does anything heroic.Galvin explains everything, but what does he achieve in doing so. And why does the hitman have a nail gun, instead of a real one? It is these decisions to embrace the oddness of the setting and story that gives it its authenticity and strength.