Written by Markisan Naso
Art, Lettering, and Design by Jason Muhr
Action Lab: Danger Zone
Ultimate Comics Overlord Alan sometimes gets a mad scientist grin when he gives me the week’s assignment. This week, I swear he cackled, promising to be Mystery Science Theater and give me a 64-page stinker. Well, Alan, you don’t win this time. This book is awesome, and everybody should check it out.
The story is so full of surprises that I am uncomfortable getting into too much detail, but the cover is a chef holding a cleaver and heading toward a bunch of dinosaurs, so I ought to explain that part. Nate Willner was an apprentice chef in Brooklyn until a shocking tragedy ended his old life and sent him back to his family home in Utah. After six months of drifting and grieving, he learns that he has inherited an estate from a distant relative and, for cool sci-fi reasons, he can now live his dream of opening a restaurant that serves dinosaur meat.
Even if this wasn’t proving a point to Alan, I would have loved this book. The silly joy of imaginative technology and people fighting dinosaurs with blowtorches is balanced with precision by the depth of emotion the creative team can display. The dialogue sounds natural and real, but the narration has a grounded poetry to it, a celebration of the natural world that is surely setting up dire consequences for screwing with the boundaries of time and the food chain. The art has an expressive style similar to the Luna brothers, and I would naturally shelve this next to their Alex + Ada or Ultra books for the gentle way a reader falls into this blend of comic art and profound human truth.
Action Lab has been a friend to Ultimate Comics for years, entertaining us at conventions and publishing work by friends of the store like Jason Strutz, Brockton McKinney, and Jeremy Whitley. Voracious is something wildly original, so much more than the Jurassic Park/Food Network mashup that made up the elevator pitch for this project. Readers can get 64 pages for less than five dollars, and I think that’s a great investment. Head on down to Ultimate Comics in Chapel Hill or Raleigh to pick up your copy. And then rub Alan Gill’s face in how much you love it.
-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics