Gunnerkrigg Court, Volume 4: Materia, picks up three months after Volume 3 ended, as the comic always skips over the students’ summer break. Antimony has returned from the Gillitie Wood and is reunited with her friend Kat, who is justifiably annoyed that Antimony abandoned her at the end of the last school year with no explanation. We also learn more about Diego’s mysterious robots, who regard Kat as their “Angel” due to the fact that she is the only one who can bring them back to life. In addition, we get a midnight outing with the students who hang around and tell stories; almost the first on-panel appearance of Antimony’s father (almost); the Secret History of Jones; and both the Court and the Forest choose their new mediums. As is standard, the comic answers several questions, but only in such a way that each answer raises about a dozen new questions. Despite this, the story never feels frustrating. In fact, usually the reader feels like he is on an adventure to root out the strange and mysterious truth.
I’d like to say Tom Sidell’s art work is flawless as always, but that’s not true, because his art wasn’t always as wonderful as it is in this book. If you look back at the early days of the comic, the characters and art style were drastically visually different from what we see here. This makes the wonderful art in this volume all the more impressive. We can see how much Sidell has improved over time to arrive at the current gorgeousness of the comic.
While the comic is primarily aimed at young adult readers (and its complexity reflects that), there is nothing in it that would specifically make it inappropriate for younger readers. There are some scary moments, but nothing truly nightmare inducing.
Much though I would love to recommend that everyone pick up a copy of this book as soon as is physically possible, I can’t. That’s because Gunnerkrigg Court has an incredibly dense, rich, twisted, complex internal mythology and plot. Picking up volume four without having read the previous three volumes would leave one confused and unlikely to attempt reading the comic again. This would be a shame because it is a truly fantastic work. I would call it one of the best webcomics on the internet. Luckily it is all available for free online. The site updates with a new page every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday like clockwork. So if you’re already a fan of the comic, you should support it and buy this book. If you’re not yet a fan of this comic, go read it and you will become one. And once you do become a fan (and it will happen) you should support it by buying this book.
Gunnerkrigg Court, Volume 4: Materia
by Tom Siddell
Archaia Entertainment, 2013