Written and Drawn by Ben Costa
I saw this big-ass, red, sweet looking hardcover show up during the unpacking of stuff at the olde comic shop one sunny Wednesday morning and I was all like, "whaddafudge izat?" Then I was distracted by a bumble bee or something and forgot about it.
A few days later me and the X-Man (see below, brilliant review of Serenity: A Shepard's Tale) were "hanging out" and out of the corner of my eye I see that redness, that round, bald head fleeing from something. The book's sitting on homeboy's backpack. "Hey, I'm trying to read that," I say, though I hadn't thought about the book since I'd seen it that fateful Wednesday morn.
"Well, tough nuts, dawg, that shit is MINE," Xmas replies, not making eye contact.
"Aww, don't be that way."
"You should have thought ahead, my man. I saw this mess in a Previews Magazine three months ago and knew it would be dope." Now he looks at me, and I know he's speaking Truth.
"Is it dope?" I ask sheepishly, begging with my eyes for the table scraps from his bounty of dopeness.
"I dunno." Xmas looks away and brushes at the air with the back of his palm. He won't even look at me! He knows I am like a peasant who couldn't think ahead; he is the proud noble who foresaw this terrible winter. "Take it. You read it."
And from his greatness, from his generosity, I received dopeness. Pang is awesome! The dialogue reads like a modern comedy (think Scott Pilgrim) with the snappiness and the all-the-time wit. But the whole book is CHOCK full of history: history of the Shaolin monks, history of feudal China, history of martial arts, etc and etc. And the words! There are so many effing words in this comic book! I spent days reading it! And couldn't put it down!
And that's not all. Ben Costa's panel work throughout this full color volume borders on brilliant. Like, almost Chris Ware-style good. He doesn't quite have the page room that Ware does, and as a result things can get kind of tricky and confusing, but there is ambition in the layout of this graphic novel. This guy is taking the comedic-historic-fictional-kung-fu comic book in a completely different direction.
And did I mention it's self published? Read!
4.5 out 5 comic shop counter boy beards.