Imagine a world without people where talking animals roam the dangerous and desolate landscape in search of purpose and being. This is the realm that Gregory S. Baldwin (writer/artist) presents in Com.X’s Path graphic novel, and while the story isn’t perfect, it manages to touch you in a sincere way with its basic characters and uncomplicated plot.
The story follows the adventures of the two main characters- a rabbit and an elephant who remain nameless throughout the entire piece. The rabbit is a lone voyager, wandering aimlessly in a land that has placed him very obviously at the bottom of the food chain. He’s dim witted, honest, awkward, and the comic relief. The elephant on the other hand is regal, composed, rational, and quite big. The two cross paths when the rabbit is attacked by ferocious crocidogs who are anxious to make him their next meal. The elephant literally drops out of the sky on top of the predators, and from there on out he and the rabbit become the best of buds.
The elephant tells the rabbit that he’s leaving this land because it’s his time to go, and the rabbit tags along without objection from the larger animal. On their way “out” they embark upon a journey that is ripe with predators of all shapes and sizes; scary looking beasts and critters like crocidogs, air leeches, giant frog things, flying squid guys, and over-sized fish! For some reason anything and everything is out to eat the main characters, and while we never really know where these rabid creatures come from, you just accept it as the story jumps from one dangerous encounter to the next narrow escape.
That’s pretty much the plot of Path as it lacks any clear climax and ends abruptly. It’s just one encounter for the duo after the other until eventually they reach the elephant’s destination and we’re handed a moving ending. The absence of an antagonist and the lack of a climax though really leaves the reader wanting something more out of the story, and the fact that nothing is really explained (Where do the main characters come from? What created these grotesque monsters? Why is the land so bare and dry? Where are they exactly- on Earth? Somewhere else?, etc.) makes things feel a little hollow. Also, I couldn’t shake the Ice Age vibe Path gives off, and whether that’s a good or a bad thing I’m still not sure.
Easily the best thing about Path is the art and the creature designs which look way cool. My favorites were the rabbit and these weird little critters that look something like a cross between a Jawa and an Ewok, who only speak one word: “MLEEP”. The book is in grey-tone with a hint of sepia to it, which is both a plus and a minus. It’s nice because it fits the mood of the book; a barren land filled with danger. However at times the style of the art made some panels look confusing where you’re not exactly sure what it is you’re looking at. This is something that color would have probably remedied.
My major gripe with the story is that the dialog felt very awkward and out of place at numerous points throughout. Most notably the rabbit’s catch phrase, “Crud”, quickly wore on me and the line, “Well it does sorta remind me of a yo’ momma joke,” felt incredibly out of place. Lines such as these came off more like filler than anything else, which is unfortunate because the art is so beautiful. The story would probably play better without dialog like that and the word balloons that accompany it, which cover up the art. The humor does ring true at times; my favorite exchange happened when the rabbit was eaten by an enormous fish. The elephant reached in and yanked him out and the rabbit exclaimed, “How in tarnations did ya not get yer hand bit off?” The elephant only replied with, “Who said ya came out through his mouth?” Nasty!
There were also a handful of typos in the book, which is always jarring. For instance, at one point “they’re” was used instead of “their” and the line “Suppose I got a bit of any itchy trigger finger lately,” didn’t make much sense. This could be chalked up to how the characters talk, as their dialog is abnormal at times, but if that’s the case the accents of characters shouldn’t clog the reader’s journey in enjoying the story, which is what happened there.
While lacking a major climax and a deep plot, Path compensates nicely with its simplistic charm and touching conclusion. The rabbit’s sense of humor and reactionary expressions are endearing, and the elephant’s determination to finish his mission is respectable. If you’re a fan of animal protagonists or heartwarming endings, Path is definitely for you!