Equal parts “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Swamp Thing,” “Incredible Hulk” (the Lee/Kirby issues), “Uncle Remus,” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” this book has a little something for everyone. I do advise caution, however, as it is not an all ages tale, but rather a tale for the ages. Set during a less socially tolerant time, this tale delivers an unsettling reminder that the United States were not always as united as most like to imagine them.
Granted, “Bayou” takes place in the 1930s — 1933 to be exact — but the difference between the 30s and the 1800s is minimal at best. The African American citizens are only marginally citizens, especially in the deep south. This feeds the plot and drives more than a few of the characters in this book.
Originally offered online through DC’s Zuda Comics, this book collects the first part of the story of Lee Wagstaff, a sharecropper’s daughter with a special tie to the world around her. When the landowner’s daughter turns up missing, leaving only a shoe behind, the worst is presumed and Lee’s father is dragged into prison, presumed guilty and left with the burden of being proven innocent.
The imagery crafted by Love in this book is a departure from nearly everything DC publishes, as it plays strongly to the webcomic format which, in and of itself, plays closely to the format of comic strips. Thus this book has the physical dimensions of an old “Garfield” collection, but the content is as originally American as comics themselves.
Love’s characters are kinetic and engaging, lively and vibrant. His little girls move and behave like little girls and while there may be two hulking characters in this story — Bayou and Joe — they move differently, they carry themselves differently, and there is no chance whatsoever of confusing the two.
Sporting adventures in a land that treads with a foot in the fantastic and the other in the racially-incensed world of the 1930s South, this book offers insight left behind by history books. This is an American myth, featuring Cotton-Eyed Joe, Jim Crowe, Andrew Jackson, and Ol’ Rabbit. There are legends afoot here and a legend being created in these pages. It’s high time someone took the initiative to capture America’s mythology, and Love is just the man to do it.
While the original content is delivered online, the collected pages offers a significant story to enjoy, free of any online connection. Personally, I prefer my comics in-hand, and with this offering from DC Comics, I am enthused to see what else Zuda has to offer.