The older I get the more I appreciate comics made for all ages. The graphic violence, sex, and adult themes that quantify many books these days wear on me. When a comic is created using these vices, it tends to loose a dignity once pervasive within the comic book industry, and instead of interesting character development, plot, or concept, we are presented with pages splashed with blood and marred with foul language.
Before you jump to the defense and point to some of the best Hulk or Wolverine storylines which admittedly are chalk full of this sort of thing, I want to agree with you. I’m not panning comics across the board which are of a more adult nature. These themes can make a comic become something more awesome than expected. What I take issue with are those comics using sex, or violence as if it replaces story and plot.
All ages books don’t have this option. They can’t use gore or hard language as a device. An “all ages” book has to be good. It has to stand on its own two feet. To create a book of this sort the bar is set high. Not just anyone can do it well, it’s a challenge.
Ben McCool and Rob Mommarets chose to take on this challenge with The Lookouts, a new comic presented by Penny Arcade and published digitally by Comixology. Not only have they accepted the challenge; they have overcome its obstacles and in the process created a comic that is a lot of fun to read.
“The Lookouts” takes place in the magical village of Eyrewood, and delves into the secrets hidden in the Eyrewood forest, including crazy monsters, trolls, and a slew of other mythical creatures soon to be discovered.
The book tells the story of those young men and women being trained to seek out danger, battling the magical beasts of the forest. Judging by the first book it appears there may be more danger from within the Village than anything lurking in the forest’s shadows.
Ben McCool has done a fantastic job writing this tale. Typically I shy away from the whole “Dungeons and Trolls” sort of thing, and I’ve never even played with an eight sided die, but Ben presents The Lookouts through a child’s eyes. The rules are his to manipulate, the creatures and characters aren’t subject to centuries of myth or lore, they are here to be played with and explored. While there are scary things happening here, more often than not is an overwhelming sense of adventure and fun. The good guys will be triumphant, light will overcome darkness, and we will all have a little secret chuckle along the way.
With The Lookouts McCool deviates from some of his past work on such books as Choker and PIGS, and presents a much lighter and more fun side to his personality.
Robb Mommaerts comes out swingin’ as well with a cartoonish style and a real flare for creating monsters. Mommaerts’ past works include Jesus Hates Zombies Lincoln Hates Werewolves, (one of my special favorites) and Four Feet from a Rat.
Without Mommaerts’ stylistic illustrations The Lookouts would still be good, but it wouldn’t great. Actually I don’t think I’m giving him enough credit there. Without Robb Mommaerts’ art this book would not work. He nailed this one. I would have never picked this book up if it weren’t for his artwork.
The Lookouts is worth reading. I want to see this book succeed. Issue #1 sets a high standard, but if they can consistently deliver a comic as good as the first, I’ll stay on board for the full ride.
Lookouts #1: May We Die In The Forest
Written By Ben McCool
Art By Ben McCool