Comic Review: “Code Monkey Save World” #1

CMSW001_CoverI’ll be honest; I remember hearing about Code Monkey Save World months ago, and then it fell off my radar.  It wasn’t until this morning that writer Greg Pak tweeted about it that my neurons reassembled themselves and made me think, “… oh, yeah, based on one of my favorite Jonathan Coulton songs.”  Greg was kind enough to provide a review copy for me.

Folks, don’t fall into the same trap I did and forget about this comic.  This comic is fun.  No, wait, let me bold and allcaps that — it’s FUN.  If you’re a Jonathan Coulton fan, you’ll undoubtedly understand where plot points were drawn from, but even if you’re not, this comic is unabashedly absurd, and you’ll enjoy every single panel of it.  I mean, come on, it’s called Code Monkey Save World.  If you expected grim and gritty in this comic, you need to rethink your expectations.

Code Monkey get up get coffee.
Code Monkey go to job.
Code Monkey have boring meeting
With boring manager Rob

— Opening lyrics to “Code Monkey”

Those four lines make up the basic plot of the first three pages, but Greg Pak beautifully expands the world of Code Monkey.  From the first page, you understand a few things — he’s a monkey who can talk, he likes coffee, and he’s looked down upon because, well, he’s a monkey.  Pak gives CM stilted speech that allow the reader to grasp that CM is an outsider in the human world, but he’s doing his best to fit in.

As the story progresses, we meet Matilde, the object of CM’s love from the song.  She makes CM feel all gooey inside, and indeed, he does present her with soda, although it’s not exactly what you think.  Again, Pak takes the simplified story from the song and makes it feel fresh and alive.  This is a testament to both Pak’s skill as well as Coulton’s for providing a very solid narrative in the song.

Unfortunately for CM, Pak has decided to delve into one of Coulton’s other popular songs – “Chyron Beta Prime”.  Yes, the evil overlords protectors from that alien planet have come to enslave humans — Matilde and Rob are just two of them.  As it happens, the company CM works for — SCM Enterprises — is run by “Skullcrusher”, who enlists CM to help save them… or does he?  There are sinister forces at play here, and I don’t just mean the overlords protectors of Chryon Beta Prime.

As mentioned earlier, if you’re familiar with Coulton’s songs, you will see the song stories beautifully woven into the narrative here.  I’m sure there are references I’m not getting, but Pak makes sure that the story stands on its own without prior knowledge of the songs.  I haven’t even mentioned the art — Takeshi Miyazawa’s pencils and inks are truly gorgeous.  This is a silly book and as such, the art style is a bit exaggerated, but it’s still wonderfully rendered.  Adding to the whole ensemble are the colors by Jessica Kholinne.  It’s bright, it’s cheery, but it’s also moody when called for.

All in all, this is a comic well worth your money.  If you like fun, and who doesn’t, get it.  You won’t be sorry.  Read the preview at http://gregpak.com/2013-10-16-code-monkey-save-world-1-hits-comixology-read-the-preview-today/, and then buy the comic from comiXology on Wednesday, October 15 at http://www.comixology.com/Code-Monkey-Save-World-1/digital-comic/48626.

[If you want, buy through my friends at Neptune Comics.  I don’t make any profit from this link; I just like the folks there.]