The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

The Wrenchies

Meet the Wrenchies.

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

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, nightmarish monsters whose minds are lost forever.

When Hollis, an unhappy and alienated boy, stumbles across a totem that gives him access to the parallel world of the Wrenchies, he finally finds a place where he belongs. But he soon discovers that the feverish, post-apocalyptic world of the Wrenchies isn’t staying put… it’s bleeding into Hollis’s normal, real life. Things are getting very scary, very fast.

Farel Dalrymple brings all his significant literary and artistic powers to bear in his magnum opus—a sprawling, intense science fiction tale that has at its heart the uncertainty and loneliness of growing up.
…more


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    Raeleen Lemay

    Jul 03, 2015

    rated it
    it was ok

    Shelves:
    dnf,
    graphicomanga

    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.

    Jesse (JesseTheReader)

    (more of a 2.5)

    Keith

    Apr 27, 2014

    rated it
    it was amazing

    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

    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 feels kind’ve silly I’ll bracket off my notes as spoilers. Lame.

    (Followup: by the time I finished my notes, they became an article unto themselves. Don’t bother clicking the link unless you really, really want a really, really detailed play-by-play of the entire book.)

    (view spoiler)

    More of a prologue than a full chapter, this sets up the tone and associative page layouts Dalrymple will use later in the book, and also hearkens back to his work in It Will All Hurt and excerpts of Delusional. Although the panel sequences are relatively linear, there’s also a tendency to guide the eye around the page rather than through it, and the voiceover will often fragment into glyphs and symbology as it tells the story.

    Here, the two boys from the chapter’s title are running through a forest in what seems to be a modern, real-world setting. They wander into a sewer tunnel, where they’re attacked by a Night Creep, a well-dressed vampiric monster whose race serves as one of the main antagonists of the book. The creature seems to live in some kind of treasure den, complete with medieval-looking weapons and magic items.

    The Night Creep inserts its fingers into Sherwood’s eyes and seems to corrupt him somehow, while Orson finds a sword and lops off the monster’s head. As he recovers, Sherwood finds an amulet that is speaking to him from the floor of the creature’s cave. As he looks through it, Sherwood is transported into a floating negative space.

    CHAPTER 2: THE YOUNG WRENCHIES (p30)

    This section feels the most like what the PR on this book suggests you’re getting into. Here, we jump into a strange post-apocalyptic world populated only by ruined cities, giant robots rusting into the earth, and warbands of children battling zombie hordes across the wasteland. A strange living shadow floats across these landscapes, and resurfaces throughout the book as a silent guide through the story.

    Our focus is on The Wrenchies, a small tribe of child-warriors who’ve named themselves after an old comic book (Wrenchies #1). They’re one of the toughest and most well-known gangs — they maintain a secret lair that shelters other gangs during the day, and are able to hold themselves against the zombies (called Shadowsmen) and rival gangs like the Zekes.

    Although this section of the book is quite long, it’s mainly action and world-building. One evening, the Wrenchies survive a raid on some kind of underground rock concert in the desert by the Night Creeps, who seem to use robots to absorb older children out of existence. (Barch and Belf, a pair of bickering mice from some of Dalrymple’s other works, make an appearance here.)

    When the Zekes are wiped out following the raid, the Wrenchies save their leader, Shakey, who takes them to the underground lair of The Scientist, a mysterious entity the Wrenchies have never heard of.

    At the Scientist’s lair they met Olweyes, another child who explains to them that Wrenchies #1 actually contains secret codes that, when deciphered, can unlock a world of superbeings who will wipe the Shadowsmen from the earth. Olweyes offers to take the Wrenchies to the Scientist to discuss the matter further.

    CHAPTER 3: HOLLIS AND THE GHOST (p108)

    Another abrupt shift, and this section changes direction to focus on Hollis, a young overweight boy living in a modern city who is always dressed in his homemade superhero costume, and who lives in a bit of a dreamworld.

    Hollis has been featured in several of Dalrymple’s short comics, but in Wrenchies his bizarre inability to connect to the real world is more apparent. It’s not just that’s he’s unpopular among his peers; Hollis also seems both emotionally and mentally stunted in his understanding of the world around him. His main concern is displeasing God because of his developing sexual desires, and he spends much of his time talking to Him, and/or narrating his own day-to-day.

    Hollis’ most recent obsession is his next door neighbor Sherwood, a single adult man who lives alone. Hollis believes that a ghost lives in Sherwood’s apartment, and this ghost (a white version of the shadow being we saw in part 2) comes around to hang out with Hollis quite often.

    Hollis is also intrigued by his copy of Wrenchies #1, which seems to both fascinate him but make him feel strange and ashamed. After destroying a copy of the comic, Hollis steals a second one from the grocery store. Soon after, he’s spying on Sherwood’s apartment when a magic amulet (the same amulet we saw in part 1) appears to him. Hollis dons the amulet and falls into the comic book world of The Wrenchies.

    CHAPTER 4: THE SCIENTIST AND ORIGINAL WRENCHIES (p146)

    This section is mainly exposition, but the background for a story like this is so strange and idiosyncratic that it still clips along at a good pace.

    Here we meet the Scientist, a giant gray automaton that has assembled Hollis and the Wrenchies to enact a ritual that will bring the “original Wrenchies” (we’ll call them the Originals) to their world in order to stop the Shadowsmen. The Originals are a group of adult warriors from Wrenchies #1, and when the group successively summons them through the Scientist’s Bryson Vortex Tunnel, they also call through a swarm of Vortex Bugs, which the Scientist insists they must kill before they grow into nightmares.

    As the expanded group sets to the task, the Scientist fills them in on what’s led to their being brought together. The Scientist used to be a man named Herzog Duke, who at some point in the past found himself a part of a group imprisoned on a “space vessel” with Sherwood and Orson, among others (more on this much later, or in It Will All Hurt). Sherwood and Duke became friends, though each would eventually escape the ship: Sherwood will return to Earth a few years after the events of Chapter 1 (implying that the amulet may have transported him to the “space vessel” at the end of that section), while Duke arrives centuries later, having transplanted his mind to the body of a robot and finding his home planet plagued with demons. By this point in Earth’s future (the Scientist explains), the human race had been reduced to children, raised in space incubators and deposited on the planet’s surface as a food source for the Shadowsmen.

    When the Scientist first arrived and sequestered himself in an underground sanctuary, he also constructed a radio that was able to tune into messages from Sherwood, who explained the downfall of both the planet, and himself.

    After his return to Earth, Sherwood had grown into a paranoid man, convinced he would bring about the destruction of the world. In an attempt to combat this fate, Sherwood spent years writing and drawing Wrenchies #1, a comic designed to summon those who would fight the oncoming evil. Sherwood also performed magic on a set of strangers who were then dropped into an alternate dimension to train for their future lives as these heroes. These strangers would become the Originals.

    Sherwood’s predictions of doom eventually came true. The world collapsed in war and environmental disasters, and a meteor struck the planet and opened the gates to Hell, bringing forth the Shadowsmen, a race of dark elves. Sherwood’s dying body, full of magic and extradimensional energy, became the source of their power.

    Now, the Scientist has called upon the expanded Wrenchies to walk to the dark elves’ lair and destroy Sherwood. He gives the group a final tour of his underground compound, and offers them performance-enhancing drugs, then says, “Soon we will truly be hauling ass. Prepare for our ascension to the surface!”

    CHAPTER 5: THE QUEST (p188)

    This section is narrated again by Hollis, and documents the Wrenchies journey to find Sherwood. Along the way, four of the Originals and a few of the children are destroyed, maimed, or lost. Koole from Pop Gun War makes an appearance as a minor baddie, and the plot’s associative looseness becomes a full-blown existentialist creed, as the characters spend just as much time dreaming and considering their mortality as they do fighting Shadowsmen and other assorted horrors.

    A child who has appeared only as a part of the background in several early scenes appears in their travels as a haunt of some kind; his name and significance will not be revealed until part 6. The white formless ghost appears again to Hollis, who in turn finds himself among a group of friends who like and accept him for the first time in his life.

    This may be the strongest and most evocative section of the book, although there’s not much to detail in terms of plot, and much of the chapter is simply riffing on earlier images and scenes. The Wrenchies’ path leads them to an abandoned cardboard box which contains a forest, which contains a shack, which leads to a basement comound full of deactivated robots in which each character must walk their own path, facing various threats both physical and psychological.

    After those who survive this ordeal regroup, the band descends to a cave where Sherwood’s body hangs suspended in space, surrounded by a glowing green orb.

    CHAPTER 6: SHERWOOD PRESLEY BREADCOAT (p234)

    Finally we return to the end of chapter 1, as young Sherwood floats in a negative space surrounded by bubbles. Each bubble seems to pop him into different points of his life, in some sort of Dickensian review of his sins.

    Although the narrative actively fights against explaining itself in sequence, it seems that after several years fighting demons alongside his brother Orson, Sherwood was abducted by aliens at age 12. This led directly to Sherwood meeting Herzog Duke, and having a series of adventures which culmnated both in Duke’s death in a lab experiment, and Sherwood’s escape from the alien ship.

    Upon returning to Earth, Sherwood spent years working on and off for the government as a secret agent, but also suffered years of depression and malaise, and looked desperately for some kind of spiritual enlightenment. As an adult he met a man named Fortune Scepter who reminded him of his brother Orson (who he’d left onboard the alien vessel as a child.) He also dates a woman named Marsi (Marsi is also one of the young Wrenchies), who leaves him after his obsession with magic consumes him.

    After creating Wrenchies #1, Sherwood seems to lose his mind — he casts a spell on his amulet (which will eventually lead it to Hollis) and kills Fortune. As a white ghost and a dark ghost (the shadows we’ve seen throughout the book) leave his body, Sherwood watches in horror while a horde of Night Creeps finally come for him.

    From this, we cut back to the Wrenchies standing beneath Sherwood’s suspended body in the dark elves’ lair. As the group fights off an army of Night Creeps, Hollis throws the amulet at Sherwood, uniting the white ghost with his corporeal body. The white ghost was Sherwood’s soul, traveling through time and space to find him.

    The demons turn to ash and Sherwood regains consciousness. Moments later, the dark ghost arrives — this is Sherwood’s death, come to claim him. Sherwood begs forgiveness, and the Scientist crushes his skull.

    EPILOGUES (p280)

    Hollis and the Scientist return to explain that the Wrenchies continued their adventures in smaller groups, alluding to events in Dalrymple’s other works, including Remainder and Supermundane.

    The amulet returns to the beginning of Chapter 2, where it is found by Barch and Belf.

    Through the amulet, we see Sherwood and Olson recovering from fighting the Night Creep in Chapter 1. Sherwood claims he had a dream where he tried to change future, but is already forgetting it. “They know us now and are coming for us,” he days.

    As they turn to leave, a Vortex Bug lands on Sherwood’s eye.

    On the astral plane, Sherwood and Marsi laugh about the ridiculousness of the whole affair. “You were obsessed with your own personal story…with your own pain,” Marsi says. “We’re over it now.”

    And they disappear into the void.

    FOTOGLOCTICA (p289)

    The book ends with this early story that originally appeared in MeatHaus, and through it we can see many of the kernels for Wrenchies. The story is mainly a first draft of Chapter 1, and more explicitly details Sherwood and Orson’s youthful incarnations (including a reminder that Orson appears as a regular in Supermundane. In this version of the story the boys dispatch the Night Creep rather easily, and as it dies a group of Night Creeps on a city rooftop sing ominously to one another.
    (hide spoiler)]

    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.
    …more