Multiplex is a comic that I had only recently heard about through a friend who really enjoys it. Because I was getting caught up on the series in preparation for this book, this review took me a bit longer to write than I had originally planned. That being said, I’m very glad I read all that I could before jumping in.
Not because this isn’t a good jumping on point (there’s actually a very helpful Previously… section in the front) but because this series is damn good and why have I been missing out on it all my life? As it says on the back of the book this collection prints strips #217-338 and runs up to the release of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen film. You can perhaps read this as a review of the series as a whole up to this point, but I’ll make sure to still cover the finer points of Book 3 as its own thing.
Despite being a series that began first and foremost as a parody and commentary on the ever-changing film industry it has been a whirlwind to see this comic evolve into a true teen dramedy that covers asshole kids in their late teens/early twenties being just that, as well as being endearing at the same time. Gordon McAlpin has a strong grasp on how to tell people like people with everyone in the main cast being fully-rounded three-dimensional characters. Whether giving them full arcs to explore their ever-changing lives and perspectives or allowing them bits of dialogue here and there that inform you on what they’re all about.
McAlpin obviously uses himself as reference for the character of Jason, the more or less main character of the story (although he takes more of a backseat in the later half of this book). You can tell that through the bits of notes McAlpin leaves at the bottom of each strip that gives great little commentary on his thoughts behind each work; which I felt was a nice little touch. This gives the book a deeper sense of personal weight to it when you read these notes and begin to realize that almost all of these characters are based off of real people in McAlpin’s life.
What I feel makes Multiplex work the way it does however is that he lets these characters evolve and face more personal choices and high stakes without anything ever feeling bloated, while also allowing for things to remain fun throughout. This is definitely this series’ most ambitious collected edition as quite a few of the chapters here see McAlpin busting out his own hand drawn style to guest star in a few of the strips alongside his usual digital-only style. It gives the book a sense of fun to it that wasn’t lacking in earlier books per se, but definitely upped the enjoyment factor and you can often see that reflected in the characters themselves as you see them reacting to these sort of daydreams that feature the different art.
The series never forgets about the movies however, and whether it be in the main comics or the extras that are added for this collection the evolving landscape of film is ever present in Multiplex. It’s fun seeing how the different characters react to film news and the actual releases themselves. Some films even inform whole arcs like the interesting dynamics between Jason and Angie that culminates in the release of Religulous in 2008. What happens? That’s for you to find out, dear readers (more information on that below).
Some of my favorite moments are from Jason and Kurt’s continued banter at different movie news that either did or did not ever come to pass. Being an anime fan, the Akira and Cowboy Bebop digs were especially funny to me.
Whether its offering up real and emotional stories about the revolving door of teen romance (informed almost heart breakingly by real experiences), or getting to see the characters cosplay as different characters from a variety of films upon release (the entire Watchmen movie segment was a blast to read), this book – and series – has a lot going for it. And thus remains something I feel confident in recommending, even though I don’t feel it’s perfect in any way.
Here’s where I do want to discuss a few of things I personally didn’t feel totally comfortable with. McAlpin (who’s name I realize I’ve mentioned a lot in this review) does have a very absolute sense of humor with this book. Whether it informs us of his personal sense of humor, I’m not quite sure, but I was not a fan of some of the mishandled sexual humor – which he says in a few comments that he basically regrets – and the racist/homosexual humor.
That latter being something that isn’t addressed often enough I feel. The commentary humor on racism and homosexuality is definitely one thing, and something I’m oddly fine with because there’s a reason for those things to exist. But when two characters are simply speaking to one another and make some off-handed remark that features a joke or mention of a not-to-great word to use that’s when I begin to feel a little buggy.
But this is not a sermon on censorship or a try at an intervention on why something is to PC to be in a book like this. Ultimately, the artist must create what they feel is art. I personally just find these moments to be out of place and not at all fitting in with what I experienced as a teen and current young twenty-something who tends to get into film and nerd-based shenanigans. The characters by themselves are endearing enough, no need to make me also question their vocabulary choices when better, funnier things could be said.
Finally, I would like to talk about the art. Which is commentated a lot throughout these books. Not so much in Book 3, but it was nice to see everything evolve to a very static set of images to where this collection culminates in looking like an actual movie on paper with intense camera angles and incredibly fluid movements. If this is what the series looks like going forward I’m completely sold and my ticket to the Multiplex has been bought.
The earlier books were like a pre-order really. Now it’s time for the show.
The Revenge brings together a ton of character arcs and finds a way to fit in an even greater number of extras to boot that it’s impressive McAlpin was able to juggle everything that he did. There’s also some nice surprises at the end of the book to really put a great cap on this comic. Though the final page reads like a “terrible finale” this series has anything but and I’m excited to see where the story goes from here.
Final Score: 4.5 Revenge Thrillers out of 5
Multiplex: The Revenge is available at http://multiplex10.bigcartel.com/product/multiplex-the-revenge-book-three it’s also available on Amazon and with any other major book distributor (only for retailers or special orders), but not through Diamond.
Multiplex (Book 3): The Revenge
Chase Sequence LLC
Creator/Writer/Illustrator/Letterer/Colorist: Gordon McAlpin
Reviewer: Derrick Crow
Summary: This time it’s personnel. Jason, Kurt, and the rest of the Multiplex 10 face their greatest challenges yet in the third collection of the hit comic strip Multiplex – a battle royal against their archnemeses at Flickhead Video and… the return of Brian. [Official Synopsis]