By Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer
“Fun” and “feeling” are the words that define Rock Candy Mountain. Issue #9 leans more into the fun as it stirs in even more of its underlying American mythology elements. Starks’ style of humor is quick and witty, lending itself to the quick paced fight scene that the majority of the issue employs. This month’s story also has a great deal of energy in the dialogue and the visuals. Nothing feels static. Each panel leads into the next with a “fuckt”, a “whoomp”, or a clever character angle. The colors of Chris Schweizer set the scene diligently as well. When transitioning from one scene to the next, there’s a clear distinction in tone based on the lightness or darkness present.
Although this issue dials down some of the thematic weight of previous issues, it still establishes itself as a necessary part of the narrative. The subplot involving Pomona Slim and one the series’ villains gives him a taste of the in-depth characterization Jackson saw last issue, as well as an interesting dilemma. In future issues, it seems that Slim will be forced to confront himself about his own personal difficulties and how they relate to Jackson, his former friend. Even in these serious moments, though, Starks creates humor.
The one-liners and gags that have come to define this series are integrated seamlessly, and only enhance the scenes they find themselves in. Characters with more power deprecate those around them with laugh out loud zingers and others make hilarious observations about the ridiculous events around them. The humor fits in naturally not only in terms of the characters’ dialogue and personality, but also as far as the environment is concerned. No ludicrous event goes unnoticed, especially Jackson’s increasingly prevalent ability to defeat any man in one on one combat, and even a moment that would seem like a deus ex machina in any other story. Essentially, Starks uses humor as a meta reaction to the fantastical elements of his story.
The art continues to be one of the most recognizable elements in this series. Starks and Schweizer lean towards the abstract while maintaining the detailed emotions of more realistic styles. The range of emotion is vast due to the fact that each character has a unique expression from panel to panel. When necessary, the narrative pauses to examine exactly what a character is experiencing, sometimes devoting four panels solely to the progression of one character’s feelings.
Rock Candy Mountain #9 builds on the best parts of the series, and its clever humor is a welcome relief from darker stories on the shelves. This book is for anyone looking to meet complicated, yet hilarious characters in a seemingly untouched wealth of American mythology. Starks and Schweizer’s team-up is harmonious and hopeful.