Reviewer: Emma Coverdale
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Writer: Scott Allie
Artist: Kevin McGovern
Genre: Graphic Novel
Release Date: Available Now
Leave it to the inventive minds of Scott Allie and Kevin McGovern to bring us a disturbing look at a city on the verge of self-destruction and where the wisdom of a talking rat brings people a sense of hope. Exurbia is the kind of book that is intense, engaging and utterly madcap but it works and won’t fail to remind you of a time when you actually believed in something so powerfully.
Visually, Fat City is an unusual-looking city composed of domino and dice-shaped buildings that have cracks thanks to some powerful earthquakes that are due to the fault line that runs across the center of the city itself. The people of the city have lost all hope thanks to a government that has failed them and the sense of apocalyptic events to come have the citizens of the city turning to the words of a Rat whose wisdom is spray painted on the walls.
We also meet Gage Wallace, a young idealist who had a great thing going with his girlfriend, Brenda, only to find that his life change and the promising writer has become bitter. During a fight with his girlfriend and getting advice from his television set via a vision of himself on David Letterman, he storms out of his apartment for a drink when his life takes a horrible turn. You see, his apartment explodes and Gage is accused of being the Mad Bomber who has been bombing several places around the city.
After the police catch up to him and throw him into the slammer, Gage meets the real Mad Bomber who sets off an explosive in the jail cell. Free once again, Gage is on the run with no help from his two friends, Brenda or the Goth chick from the video store he frequents. Then he runs into the Rat himself who does spout words of wisdom out as a drunkard but hates that fact that he is worshipped. When he finds out the Gage isn’t one of the rat worshippers, he helps the young man.
Meanwhile, Brenda goes through Gage’s diary that recounts the young man’s idealistic views that made him go from promising student to a disappointment due to the fact that Gage has focused his attention on making his political or anti-political views known. Having written many essays about things that anger him, his writing catches the attention of a like-minded cable-access host known as Big Fist who wants to collaborate with Gage. Then, one fateful evening, a fire in Big Fist’s building causes Gage to take his anger out on the building’s owner and only manages to turn the angry mob’s attention to Big Fist.
With his friends and Brenda finally realizing that their friend isn’t capable of being the Mad Bomber, they attempt to rescue Gage from the angry citizens of Fat City that are all dying to get their hands on him. In an exciting climax, there’s a confrontation between Gage, the Rat and the police. It’s one of the best moments in the book that won’t fail to surprise.
On top of the great writing by Scott Allie, Kevin McGovern’s art brings the right touch of craziness to the story and its many colorful characters. Even in black and white, the art manages to be engaging and surreal and that works well for this series. It’s actually good to see that they includes rough sketches, character art and some original panels from the early draft of the series as well.
What we have in Exurbia is a thought provoking, utterly captivating and crazy story that says a lot about society. Both Allie and McGovern spin the story in their own stylishly insane manner that makes this story a blast to read from start to finish. While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, this one stands as a book that should be on the Highly Recommended Reading list if you love comics with a real message.
COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN
Gage Wallace was once destined to become the youthful voice of a generation when life seemed to be less and less interesting to him … until his apartment is blown to pieces and he becomes the prime suspect. As he is running for his life, he comes to meet the Rat who is seen as something of a Messiah in a city in need of saving.
Kevin McGovern’s art is just the right kind of unusual for a story of this caliber and the perfect choice to carry out the tale.
Exurbia is indeed one of those books that has a lot to say and says it quite well. It’s also one of the most craziest and most enjoyable books you’ll want to pick up and trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed in the very least.