“Brokenland” #2 picks up where we left off with our trash angel Meeso: in a strange interior space, where they’re about to learn some important lessons about life, death and garbage.
Creator: Drew Morrison
Are we within the dump, or is the dump within us? Can we, too, become the creature who can witness? How delicious are those strawberries? We ask ourselves these important questions (and more!) when we crack open “Brokenland” #2 and witness Meeso’s odd journey through a world besieged by trash – in more ways than one.
Morrison’s first issue focused on Meeso’s attempt to carve a path through a generally uncaring world with small moments of joy and a general yearning for something more. Is it control? Meaning? Unclear, but we feel that tug toward something luminous. Issue #2 sees Meeso undergo a transformation or two, and learn a bit more about their potential. Meeso meets a strange wizard sort, takes a dip in a wondrous and terrifying ocean and meets their own brain worms more than once. “Brokenland” is a poignant look at the mess we make of the world from the lens of the perpetual oddball and outsider. It’s also a reminder that compassion is key, even if it doesn’t save us.
Morrison’s art is meticulous, with a precise line and intricate, clever detailing. There’s tons of texture and interest in each panel, but everything remains balanced and cohesive. Morrison takes a page out of Tom Luth’s book when it comes to color palette and intricacy, and is able to pick out every detail in harmony while adding a ton of depth to the page. Regular paneling and layouts contain the trippiness to the narrative, and serve Morrison’s meticulous style well. Experimental work need not rely on complexity or overstimulation. Morrison understands how to use all of the space on a page in a measured way for maximum impact.
Silence is a tremendous choice in a comic, and a creator must be able to back up that choice with clarity. Clarity’s a tricky term because it can be subjective. What’s opaque to one reader can be relatable to another, but put another way, a creator needs to have a grasp of sequential storytelling to either maintain traditional standards or to subvert them. Morrison knows how to tell a comic story, and the best example of this is in the first transmutation scene. The top and bottom strip mirror each other, while the middle strip features three panels, the first and third a mirror as well. The middle panel features a well of inky black that draws the eye. Our attention feathers out from there to take it all in, but the page also lends itself to a linear read. This layout’s designed to be perused in multiple ways without demanding or forcing that flexibility. It’s an invitation, and a beautiful one at that.
Meeso’s journey takes them through strange interior places, vast ecologically fraught landscapes and some homey, simple moments of joy. Meeso’s trying to find their place in the world, but the touching callbacks to the first issue give “Brokenland” the light humor it needs to balance some of the book’s deeper themes. Will Meeso get back to their world and find their place in it? Unclear, but the journey’s worthwhile, and the wait for another installment even more so.
The Verdict: 9/10 – “Brokenland” #2 delights as much as the first issue, with excellent craft, relatable humor and intriguing mystery.