I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc. And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.
This is a scary and thoughtful look at a bullied child. I'm even a bit conflicted about the ending, which is I think what the author was going for, there is no clear hero/answer here, no ending with a moral lesson.
At first we don't know why Joe has been targeted by Jason, but it's obvious that whatever the reason Jason has decided that Joe's life must be made unbearable. Joe has taken to walking to school rather than facing Jason on the bus.
At school, though he he lingers to get to class at the last minute and hides in the janitors closet he can't always avoid Jason. In class Jason attacks Joe in the middle of lessons, knowing that Joe cannot speak up and that teachers will not intervene, even if they suspect something's happening.
Even when adults attempt to speak to Joe about what could be happening to him, Joe avoids their questions, feeling that he must deal with Jason on his own. Eventually it is revealed that Joe's parents are a homosexual couple, which is apparently Jason's reason to attack Joe and Joe's reason to keep the bullying a secret. Why should he reveal that his parents genders/sexuality is making him a target, he doesn't want them to feel guilty or sad.
Throughout the story we see Joe escaping into the wilderness to avoid the bullies and encountering a Moose in the woods, Joe almost touches the Moose, and it turns and peacefully disappears back into the trees. While running from Jason again the Moose emerges from the dense forest, but this time the encounter doesn't end well.
I was very surprised by the ending, so surprised that I think I paused for a moment on those final pages and leafed through them a couple times. It's the type of graphic novel that leaves a lasting impression, a feeling that lingers.
In the end, I'm glad that De Radigues crafted the story the way he has and chose an ending that left the reader in a moral conundrum. This story would be great for a book discussion group, but best for older teens as the story does get pretty dark and deals with mature content and very complex moral issues.