A trailer park king, a greedy neighboring sheriff, and a washed up (literally) woman: these are just some of the things you will find in Grass Kings, Vol. 1.

The folks in the Kingdom value their personal freedoms and, at first, I thought this was going to be a stereotypical story of gun-toting, beer-drinking, foul-mouthed, right-wing rednecks. But it isn’t. Okay, there is a little gun toting and beer drinking, but this is a story about family and community. A story about greed and bloodshed. And a story about a desperate woman seeking freedom. Any overtures to politics are subtle, just like the artwork. Tyler Jenkins depicts Grass Kings in earth-toned watercolors. The characters’ faces are blurry and almost unfinished. Between the watercolors and the roughly sketched lines, the effect is quite striking. Especially when the mellow visuals are juxtaposed against the graphic violence in the story. Overall, it’s an effective choice for the poor, rural setting of this story.

Grass Kings centers around three brothers. The middle of the three brothers, Robert, serves as de facto mayor to the Grass Kingdom, a small community in rural America that is part trailer park, part small town, and part commune, inhabited by like-minded individuals who want to live off the grid and keep the government out of their business. Robert’s older brother Bruce, a former police officer, acts as the Kingdom’s unofficial law enforcement. The youngest brother, Ashur, is a little immature and seems more like a son than a brother. Itching for a fight is Humbert, the sheriff of the neighboring town of Cargill. Humbert detests the Kingdom, and especially Robert and his brothers. He wants to wipe them out. And, per usual, the spark that ignites a battle between the Grass Kingdom and Cargill, is a woman; a mysterious woman who literally washes up on the shores of the lake next to Robert’s house, exhausted and on the run from something.

The land of the Kingdom is soaked in blood from conflicts past and present, and on top of the clash between the Grass Kingdom and Cargill, there is possibly a serial killer living in the Kingdom. A number of different storylines weave in and out in this collection of issues #1-6. Occasionally this feels like overkill. Do we really need three major storylines (the tension/battle between the Grass Kingdom and Cargill, the possibility of a serial killer in the Kingdom, and the woman seeking freedom from her life in Cargill)? I think it may have been better, and more engaging, if Kindt and Jenkins had focused on just one of these storylines—perhaps the tension between the two communities.

The volume ends on a bit of a sour and uncertain note, leaving the next issues wide open for just about anything. Will there be another flare-up between the two communities? Will the Grass Kingdom find a serial killer in their midst? Will Robert finally get some answers to the questions that have plagued him the last many months of his life? Will the refugee from Cargill get back on her feet and pursue a freer life? I’m sure there is more bloodshed ahead, but I hope there are also some answers.

I enjoyed Grass Kings very much. It was certainly different from my usual capes, tights, and lightsabers fare. I think those who like the depiction of an anti-government movement in Briggs Land Vol. 1, the isolationist group in The Outsiders (TV) or the criminal aspect of Jason Aaron’s Southern Bastards will like this.

Grass Kings, Vol. 1
by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins
Art by Tyler Jenkins, Jim Jenkins
ISBN: 9781684151158
BOOM! Studios, 2018

  • Raeleigh

    Past Reviewer

    Raeleigh graduated with an MA in Music Theory and an MLS from the University of North Texas. She currently works as a cataloging librarian at the University of Arkansas, where her primary responsibilities include overseeing the cataloging of theses and dissertations. When she escapes from the confines of the cataloging world, she consumes all things nerdy. An entire room dedicated to Star Wars collecting? Check. A personal library full of everything from the classics to the newest YA fantasy to a slew of teasingly diverse comics and graphic novels? Check, check, and check. When not reading and reviewing on her personal blog, RaeleighReads (raeleighreads.com), she is busy finishing her own witchy series, Gift of Flames; cheering on her favorite eSports team, Cloud9; and posting way too many pictures of her dogs, Sherlock and Adler, to her Instagram.

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