Bad Machinery Volume 1: The Case of the Team Spirit Review

Bad-Machinery-1Bad Machinery, Volume 1: The Case of the Team Spirit by John Allison

Oni Press, 2013. 978-1620100844.

Synopsis: Charlotte and Shauna just want to help an old lady keep her house. Linton, Sonny, and Jack want to help the owner of a local football team figure out why the new stadium is under a curse. Mildred can be bribed with treats, regardless of whether or not it fits in with her vegan lifestyle. Both groups could actually use the other’s help solving their respective problems…if they were bold enough to admit it. On top of that, starting at Griswalds Grammar School comes with its own set of problems and things that are competing for your attention…so really, who has time for all this mystery anyway?

Why I picked it up: It was nominated for YALSA’s Best Graphic Novels for Teens list and it won the British Comic Award for Best Comic. Also, I am a sucker for Brit Lit.

Why I finished it: I was drawn in right off the bat by the art, which reminded me a lot of Scott Pilgrim. It’s quirky and cartoonish, but still makes the story, characters and setting feel extremely real. I was espeically fond of some of the backgrounds: though simplistic, there is good bits of humor that add to the overall comedy of the story. The story is part mystery, part comedy, part fantasy, but Allison doesn’t miss a beat and keeps the plot flowing even though he’s bouncing between seven different characters. Each piece is strategically woven together to help the reader figure out the pieces of the puzzle along with our Grammar School (roughly the equivalent of an American middle school) sleuths. It has a lived in feel, like we are picking up in the middle of a much larger storyline, but doesn’t alienate the reader by making them feel like they missed something. I love all of the characters and I love that Allison gives them unique voices and like Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) shows the reader many of the dilemmas of today’s youth: who to hang out with, whether or not to hang out with your older siblings, what to wear, which teachers are awesome, which teachers are not awesome, which teachers have suspiciously good-looking wives, who is crushing on who…. Some of the vernacular might be lost on some readers who aren’t that familiar with British culture, but there is a handy little glossary at the back to help clear up any confusion. I’m looking forward to volume 2 very much and have great expectations for Allison as a storyteller.

Other related materials: Scott Pilgrim books by Bryan Lee O’Malley; The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks; Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen; Adventure Time comics by Ryan North, illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb; Adventure Time Volume 1: Playing with Fire by Danielle Corsetto; Adventure Time: Marceline & The Scream Queens by Meredith Gran; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, illustrated by Hope Larson


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