Our Story Thus Far features a comic series that hasn’t completed its current story-arc, but we couldn’t wait to write about it because it’s so good.
Written By: Van Jensen
Art By: Pete Woods
Published By: Dark Horse
What’s up everyone, here we are on this Monday, November 7, and Reverse Meltdown has returned. There’s been a ton of hit or miss content, and I’ve missed posting, but figuratively and literally. Life can suck sometimes, but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. With this post, things are returning to normal, and I’m actually going to be updating old content to fill in all those gaps I’ve missed. However, enough with what hasn’t been happening, let’s get into what is happening. I’m introducing a new feature column to the blog called Our Story thus Far, and to premier this feature I could think of no other comic than…Crytocracy by Van Jensen and Pete Woods.
Now, way back some months ago, I wrote about the first issue of this roller coaster of a book. It was the first issue, and with it came the promise of something great. Fast forward to today and we’re on issue five, and so much has happened inbetween I don’t even know where to begin. I mean, in this story we have mythical creatures, teleportation, sci-fi weapons, fantasy weapons, aliens, creature that wipe away memories, and of course, magic. You can see why I’m finding it difficult to pinpoint one area to focus on.
I guess the best place to start, as I typically do, is with the story. If you haven’t read my opinion on issue one, you can do so here, and that should at least give you an idea of why this book is so freaking great. From that issue, to the latest, there’s been so much stuff happening. This world where nine secret families are basically the rulers of the world, but are now getting messed up by a dude with dreads, who carries a wooden stick. Yes, you read that correctly. The most powerful families in the world are getting hunted down by a skinny dude with a stick.
We’re introduced to this old, dreadlocked, stick carrying guy in the first issue when he decides it’s his mission to put the fear of God into the Nine, which is the name of the families running the world. To say that he is good at his job might be the understatement of the century, because this guy’s sudden introduction into their world forces the families to gather just to figure out how to murder this dude.
Normally, these nine families hate each other. They function in the most dysfunctional way I’ve ever seen, but for the most part it’s sort of a kill or be killed, unless killing you messes up what I want to do, then I don’t kill you but try and make your life as difficult as possible type situation. It’s complicated, but adds so much depth into this book that without this conflict between the families the delivery of chaos from Hum would’ve lost a ton of impact. In fact, I’d dare say that the conflict between the nine families, mixed with the conflict within each of these families, is the driving force behind this story.
Sure, there’s the fact that Hum appears to be serving an ancient nemesis of the Nine. There’s also the fact that the Nine are all buttholes, and you kind of want them to lose. However, watching the nearly constant struggle for power between the Nine, and then the more intimate struggle for power within each of the families, we the readers are given a deliverance from these horrible people. A glimmer of hope in this mess: Grahame.
There’s so much to like about this guy it’s ridiculous. First off, his best friend is a bugbear…think giant, talking teddy bear that can kill you in an instant, but wears cool suits. Second, Grahame isn’t really struggling for control. There’s this sense that his loyalty is found not in the power his family controls, but in the power his family has together.
There’s just this sense of loyalty radiating from Grahame that points us at this bigger picture type thinking. Sure, Grahame can fight for control of the family, but he would only do so if it served the entire family, not just himself. It is this sort of opposite thinking that brings Grahame to the top for us, the readers. In a story filled with people to hate, Grahame is the silver lining. He is literally the only character in this story that I don’t hate…in a good way. We’re supposed to hate everyone else, and if I’m honest here, it might be the most fun I’ve had hating fictional characters.
With all of that said, the story we’re given in issue one and the story that’s developed by issue five, flow together seamlessly. Often times when reading a story there’s a weird break between books. The story doesn’t diverge from what’s happening, but sometimes there’s a jump from book to book. With Cryptocracy, issue one sets up the story, and slams down on the gas peddle by the end of that issue.
What follows is an unrelenting, action packed, character driven roller coaster of a story wherein the most powerful people in the world are suddenly being picked off effortlessly by the most unassuming enemy. On top of all those wonderful things, there’s also some wildly creative and inspiring plot devices, clever humor, twists and turns, and all of this is wrapped up in the beautiful art work of Pete Woods.
I’ve ranted on too long about how great this story is, and because of that I’m really cutting just how gorgeous this book looks. Every page is filled with images that push the story along in an almost seamless way. I’ve found reading this book to be effortless because of how fluid the panel to panel storytelling is.
All in all, Cryptocracy is sitting my Top 10 best books of 2016, and although the year isn’t quite over, I think it’s safe to say that it’s sitting in the Top 5 of that list. This book is so much fun. It’s thought provoking, intriguing, clever, and I cannot recommend this series enough to anyone. The best part, issue five has one of the best cliffhanger endings I’ve read, and issue six, due Nov 30, is set up to be a powerhouse of an issue.