They’re strong, powerful, and if you cross them, things will quickly go very badly for you. Only one thing scares them—growing up. Because in the world of the Wrenchies, it’s only kids who are safe… anyone who survives to be an adult lives in constant fear of the Shadowsmen. All the teenagers who come into contact with them turn into twisted, nightmari
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I couldn’t bring myself to finish this, which makes me SO SAD. There was so much potential here, because the premise, the art, and the coloring (OH MY GOD THE COLORING) were phenomenal. However, the execution wasn’t great in my opinion, and I was confused/irritated/bored the entire time.
Hoooooly shit, what was THAT.
I thought I’d be able to write something, but I can’t. It’s gonna need another reread, and a long think.
Suffice it to say you need to pick this up, and you absolutely have no idea what you’re getting yourself into when you do.
I don’t know how to comment on the book any further unless I take notes while I go, which is pretty much how I use Goodreads half the time anyway. I feel a little bad about it this time around because Wrenchies is so new, so as much as it feel
My real review follows.
If you’ve ever taken a peek at Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles (and there’s no reason you need to, except if you want to know what’s up when someone asks you if you’ve read The Invisibles, and anyone who asks you that is a blowhard, so fuck it), you may know that his intent with that project was to enact a magic rite that would echo across both his own works and others, “a hypersigil to jump-start the culture in a more positive direction.” (wikipedia, natch)
And this is a terrible and patronizing idea, and Invisibles is a terrible and patronizing book, not least of all because its painful illusions of grandeur.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not something interesting about the concept behind it, both in being aware of a one’s own cultural impact, and of the strange energies that come out of cross-textual worldbuilding. I would posit that if you’ve ever used terms like “Buffyverse” to describe Joss Whedon’s body of work, or “Diniverse” to talk about superhero cartoons, or even been aware of the intentions behind Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, there’s something about hypersigilism that’s being invoked.
Shared story universes are the bread and butter of comics, of course — a meta-detail that is assuredly part of the equation for The Wrenchies, as its own narrative leaps across worlds, realms, and dimensions of time and space — and includes characters from throughout Dalrymple’s past comics. As in superhero stories, there are notes of religious concern at play here as well, wrapped up in the question of God-as-Author.
But rather than lose itself in Morrison’s auteurish pompousity, Dalrymple’s thought process works more honestly as a somewhat desperate search for self. Instead of basking in the aggrandizement of storybuilding, there is an attention here to the real human-being-people who make stories — who do so in an attempt to find self-worth, to find community, to find inner peace. In The Wrenchies, one person might be a superhero, a secret agent, a paper pusher, and a comics artist all in a single lifetime — but there is certain fragmentation, a trauma in all that calamity. And while there is a very real awareness of the Big Bad World outside fiction’s walls, the focus of The Wrenchies lies in what happens when a person becomes too lost and broken to be able to even access that world, much less find their place in it.
Such a tragic figure exists at the literal heart of The Wrenchies, and also echoes throughout its supporting cast — the post-apocalyptic child-warriors that are the book’s namesake, the rudderless kid in a nameless modern city who hopes to join them, the isolated adults cast into a land of magic without a true understanding of their own agency. The questions of existential meaning that surround these characters feed the meditative concerns at the center of the book, and their mounting paranoia about the hopelessness of their futures looms as large as the fantastic monsters that pursue them across the strange landscapes in which they find themselves.
I’m not saying The Wrenchies is a perfect work (although I might be), and I’ll concede that it demands no small amount of patience and a certain suspension of disbelief to be enjoyed in the first place. But I do believe it’s an incredible testament to what can be done by one person in the field of comics — and it’s made my bookshelf a hell of an exciting place to be in 2014.