by Greg Pak, Takeshi Miyazawa, Jessica Kholinne and Simon Bowland
based on songs by Jonathan Coulton
Greg Pak’s teaming up with song-writer Jonathan Coulton was a story that garnered a serious bit of attention. The project birthed the comic book project entitled Code Monkey Save World, based on characters from Coulton’s songs. Pak and Coulton took to Kickstarter and funded the project several times over. The rest of the back story of this series has been covered in the past, but it is worth looking into for those unaware. Today, however, the first chapter of this project hits the public in digital form. Code Monkey Save World #1 involves robots, world domination, bombastic villains and a lovable lead character. This first chapter is loud and colorful and every bit as entertaining as Pak promised.
Readers are introduced to Charles, a.k.a. Code Monkey, as he makes his way through yet another routine day in a typical cubicle-filled office complex. Pak and artist Takeshi Miyazawa do not overstay on this borderline cliché. They also manage to fill it with a good bit of fun with the use of some subtleties in the scenery. While being talked down to, Charles shifts his focus to the receptionist at the end of the floor. Miyazawa does a great job creating a very cute character here, and Charles’ facial expressions and personality on display in this sequence do well to invest the audience in this protagonist. He’s a nobody in a massive company who just wants the girl to take notice.
In an attempt to make contact, Charles offers a solution to the girl, Matilde. His interaction with Matilde is interrupted by a swarm of robots led by Laura the Robo Queen. Matilde is kidnapped along with many others, and Charles is recruited to pursue the attackers. This first issue is a fantastic introduction to the world. Though very little time is given to any characters outside of Charles, the script and depiction of the rest of the cast communicate a lot about each individual to help the readers fill in the blanks. The use of humor in the book is not grating or played out. Like so much of this first issue, these elements have just the right balance to entice without overreaching.
The choice of such a mundane setting in which to begin the story makes all of the moments to follow feel that much grander. Even so, while much of the story is filled with such larger than life moments, it is some of the small interactions that cement this new universe in the hearts of readers. A near-wordless exchange between Charles and Matilde that takes place amidst the attack is the defining moment for the leads. From there, the entire trajectory is established. Also to note, at this moment, Miyazawa does a fantastic job utilizing the foreground and background to magnify the impact of the moment. Interspersed throughout the issue are great moments of subtlety and commentary that add even more.
All in all, this first issue is every bit the story that was pitched. Charles and his limited language is a character that audiences will invest in quickly. The plot is simple, but it is the characters and visuals that are what matter here. Pak and Miyazawa are taking the elements of Jonathan Coulton’s songs and breathing life into them in an unforeseen way. What this makes for is a pure sense of entertainment that anyone can enjoy.