The worlds of Jonathan Coulton’s songs have collided into one action-packed comic series. There’s sure to be plenty of nods familiar to people who follow Coulton’s music, but is there anything for the average comic reader?
The answer is a resounding maybe.
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let’s first start off with some breif background. There are a lot of times when I’ll listen to music that we DON’T play on 91.8 The Fan (shocking, I know), and one of my favorite musical artists has to be Jonathan Coulton. His songs range from humorous to melancholy along with everything in-between, but are always doubtlessly clever.
Many of you might recognize Coulton as the man who wrote Still Alive for the video game Portal, but that’s far from his only work. There’s a huge collection of music available by him on basically any music distribution platform. If you’re going to listen to a few, I’d reccomend a few of the tracks available for free on his website, such as Shop Vac, I Feel Fantastic, and Skullcrusher Mountain. I also highly reccomend his latest album, “Artificial Heart,” at least for its rockier tracks. Odds are, even if you don’t like any of those, there’s probably still a Jonathan Coulton song for you.
So, as you can probably tell, I’m a pretty big fan of Jonathan Coulton. And yet, when I first heard about his songs being adapted into a huge mashup of a comic, I was a little skeptical. It seemed like it could either be pandering toward long-time fans of Coulton’s work, or end up being a fun comic with nods here and there to Coulton’s work.
I feel like we’re getting a little of both here with Code Monkey Save World.
I was lucky enough to get a copy of Code Monkey Save World for review (Thanks to all involved in that!), and I was very anxious to see how this first volume had turned out. The story is fairly simple: Charles, an office-worker Monkey (or Code Monkey, if you’d prefer), attempts to save his office crush who was kidnapped by alien robots and sent to the slave colonies of Chiron Beta Prime. With the help of his evil corporate boss, the Skullcrusher, Charles tries to find her whereabouts and do all he can to save her.
There are two things I immediately noticed about Code Monkey Saves World. For one, it’s gorgeous; Takeshi Miyazawa’s art is very manga inspired, and does an awesome job of conveying emotion throughout the comic. Secondly, Code Monkey Save World is filled to the brim with references to JoCo music. By the time you get through the first two panels, you’ve seen at least two references to Jonathan Coulton songs, three if you count Charles himself. Being a fan of JoCo’s work, I nodded in appreciation at these references throughout the story; however, I can’t help but think that someone who has never heard a Jonathan Coulton song might feel a little alienated.
Then again, this comic may not be meant to appeal to the average comic reader who might casually pick it up. This comic truly is a love letter to Jonathan Coulton fans, connected once-seperate song universes into a cohesive story. I’m almost certain that there were references I didn’t catch that may have picked from more obscure Coulton songs, but I didn’t even notice. Then again, Greg Pak has done a good job combining these works into a cohesive story, which might still hold up if you had never even heard of Jonathan Coulton.
In the end, I’m still unsure how much there is here for the average comic fan. But, at $3 for the first volume on Comixology, it might be worth a look.
If you are an avid Coulton fan, then I’m not entirely certain why you’re still reading this review. This comic was written especially for you. Go get it.