cover image Monkey Meat: The First Batch

Monkey Meat: The First Batch

Juni Ba. Image, $16.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-5343-2323-0

Ba (Djeliya) plunges the reader into the frenetic dystopia of Monkey Meat Island, where the Monkey Meat Company exploits a mutated population to produce its signature canned monkey brains as well as hyped new products Soul Juice and the Potion of Living-Death. “This whole place is hell!” a “naïve, heartbroken child” warns, yet folks keep coming to the island, drawn by the false promises of capitalism run amok. Each chapter follows an inhabitant on a trippy, traumatic adventure; one section takes the form of an action manga gone wrong, while another spins a dark fairy tale. If the plots are frequently incoherent, it’s still an eye-popping pleasure to pore over Ba’s funky artwork, a wide-ranging blend of influences from graffiti, pop art, animation, and cartoonists including Kyle Baker, Evan Dorkin, and Paul Pope. The panels burst with monsters, mutants, dark gods, and anti-corporate rage. With a psychedelic art style and anarchic vibe that would have fit right in with MTV’s Liquid Television in the 1990s, this feels like a throwback to an era when comics didn’t have to make sense to get passed appreciatively around a dorm room. Retro alt-comix fans and those who appreciate art for art’s sake are likely to enjoy the trip. (Sept.)