The Complete Dragonfly TPB – Jim Lawson

4 out of 5

Three strangers wake up, sans memory, in a jungle-like landscape. Because this is Jim Lawson, one of them is a turtle, there’s eventually a motorcycle, and they’re also attacked by dinosaurs. But part of Lawson is also a sort of unbridled, childlike sense of creativity, stuck together with an adult’s point of view, so these three strangers also include a talking dog and a girl – Dragonfly – who seems to be capable of healing from any wound, and they interact with a weirdass vampire, some aliens, and a lobster man. Why not?

The first, 80-page issue / book of Dragonfly was previously published in print, but left too many random elements on the table to be fully satisfying as a standalone. This trade collection of that book plus three other issues (of regular, 30ish page length) successfully brings in that satisfaction, while also leaving the world open for another creator to take the reigns, should they decide to do so; there’s still a lot of random, but Lawson gives it shape by poking and prodding at the nature of what this jungle world is, and then elevates things very interestingly in the last issue, adding a rather uncommon point of view that’s well presented, and thought provoking. Offering up more essentially spoils the story, however, in a setup where ‘nothing is what it seems to be,’ the choice to accept that – without it seeming like a defeat – is a fascinating one.

Lawson’s art – assuming you’re down with his stylized, scraggly lines and lettering – is wonderful throughout, giving his main lead, turtle-man John, a lot of personality, and coming up with fun designs for the various characters we meet and the settings we touch on. Jim’s character writing doesn’t necessarily go too deep – these are characters driven by straight-forward pursuits – but it all fits perfectly within the sort of scope and tone he establishes. It’s still odd that the book is named after a character who somewhat falls by the wayside, though.

For those that bought the original Book 1 publication (me), the extra pinups and whatnot in that book were not reprinted, so it’s still of value. Otherwise, at a flipthrough, I don’t think any of the art was tweaked, so the content remains the same. It’s maybe a little disappointing that Jim is done with the series (as he mentions in a backmatter note), as its ante up in the last issue is super cool, but it’s also a totally reasonable stopping point, and admirable that he recognizes if he’s taken something as far as he wants to go with it.