Ludocrats #1 is a wild, decadent comic. Many years in the making, it’s from writers Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol, artist Jeff Stokely, colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and letterer Clayton Cowles, who gives the book a definite “Euro” vibe. The story follows the misadventures of Otto and Hades. They’re a part of an aristocratic group dedicated to having a good time. It is an utter paean to the art of hedonism: the comic book equivalent of Dionysus giving Apollo a spanking.
First up, there’s a wedding between Elaina and Lord Pulderwart, a “boring” person. It’s a wondrous occasion for a first issue and turns the classic comedy structure of ending with a wedding on its head reflecting the topsy turvy world order of Ludocrats. Gillen and Rossignol indulge in their most florid and absurd prose. Especially through the character of Otto, who is introduced completely nude, covered in blood, and with his penis out. Otto is pure id and gets the best lines as he is the arbiter of all things “ludicrous”. He is the offspring of Shakespeare’s Falstaff. More so the Merry Wives of Windsor Falstaff than the Henry IV duology Falstaff. Otto is the physical representation of this comic’s themes and attitudes.
Jeff Stokely’s artwork in Ludocrats is Asterix and Obelix by way of Brandon Graham. It features all kinds of fun and hilarious background details that are expanded upon in the issue’s back-matter. Stokely and Tamra Bonvillain’s double-page spread of a wedding set the tone and almost singlehandedly build the world of Ludocrats. It’s like the Mos Eisley cantina on acid. You’re introduced to a world where knights read the newspaper, some folks have goldfish bowls for heads, and a bag of wheat gets a seat all to themselves for some reason or another.
Everything in Stokely’s artwork is exaggerated. It fits the tone of Ludocrats #1 from the aforementioned nude and bloody Otto taking up an entire full-page spread. There’s no room for deadpan (Except for the cool Dr. Hades.), everything is ham in this comic. Even though Ludocrats has the clear structure of a wedding, Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol are liberated to write some of the strangest dialogue I’ve seen, especially when Otto tries to flirt with one of the party guests. Who knows that a satire of heteronormativity could be so damn funny, especially when Stokely adds cartoon physics to the mix?
Although its characters behave in unrestrained manners and constantly try to outdo each other in the matters of eccentricity, Ludocrats #1 is a comic that’s fairly easy to follow. Its focus is two main characters and a variety of visual and verbal jokes. Instead of relying on boring exposition (This is actually a plot point), Gillen, Rossignol, Stokely, and Bonvillain throw you straight in the middle of the world without a life vest. This is an admirable storytelling point, and Ludocrats #1 is a true party of a comic that you should safely try to acquire when it’s released.
Story: Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol Art: Jeff Stokely
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review