Gunnerkrigg Court vol. 2: Research (Archaia HC 6″x9″ edition) – Thomas Siddell

4 out of 5

Another round of brilliant, far-reaching, “all-ages” fantasy, where that last bit is only included in quotes because kids are cursed if they’re reading this, since it will ruin comics that aim for the same levels of intelligence and fun world-building Siddell seems to have whipped together behind a cute and simple presentation; Gunnerkrigg Court is damn good, and it will make many other things not so damn good in comparison, so maybe allow your kid to do some exploring before ruining other books for them.

Volume 2, year 2 for Antimony and Kat at the titular school and things are the same – wolf spirit Reynardine is cranky but protective; Antimony casually communes with the spirit world; Zimmy snips; robots and ghouls abound – but things all grow wonderfully in scope, Siddell slipping in slick expansions to the cast and concepts with a fair dose of humor buffering some hefty and mature themes.  The characters and their attitudes are very real, but also written with the kind of flexibility that allows for tossing them in to antics; the story is linear, but told in isolated chapters that means that giving us a mysterious robot idol, a sit-down with Coyote, and flashbacks to Anitmony’s and Kat’s parents never feel like distractions, but are just as engaging as when our lead duo are finding more out about their strange school and its history.  Rather, it’s all history: Siddell also always makes sure to bring each chapter to a point, so that Gunnerkrigg doesn’t need dangling questions to force us to read the next chapter, but is enjoyable just as a way of hanging out with our likable and interesting cast, and to learn about the world.

There are mysteries, of course, and they do start to pile up.  While, again, GC is written in such a fashion as to never make us feel stuck, waiting for answers, there is A LOT going on in this volume, and there’s occasionally a one or two page foray that feels entirely out of left field.  It’s generally used – or so it seems – for ‘flavor’ of a scene, and not neccesarilly to lay out a puzzle piece, but I do kind of image that these interruptions will seem less so upon a reread.

A rewarding read for its drama, for its comedy, its action, or just because Siddell is creative as all get out.