Review: Marijuana Man

April 20th is upon us again and with it comes the typical celebrations of the marijuana counterculture. This year, Image Comics have teamed up with Ziggy Marley, front man of the Melody Makers and eldest son of Bob Marley, to produce the story of Marijuana Man. It is the story of an alien named Sedona from the distant planet of Yelram who has traveled to Earth in search of something that will save the dying people of his home world.

While based off an idea by Ziggy Marley, the book itself is written by Joe Casey. To many, the story will come across as typical stoner nonsense, or as I affectionately call it, “hippie propaganda.” As it turns out, the people of Yelram (that’s Marley spelled backwards in case you haven’t already noticed) don’t have DNA ,but rather are made up of THC, and marijuana actually unlocks ancient powers in Sedona that have been lost by his people.

Joe Casey does a pretty decent job at making an absolutely bizarre story more or less work. The characters are likable and sincere, the dialog is fun, and there are plenty of nods to the musical work of Ziggy and his father throughout the story. It’s very hard to dislike the sincerity and charm of this book, despite the slightly silly concept.

Despite the out of the ordinary subject matter, Marley and company take this story seriously. Topics such as corporate greed are tackled in a rather straightforward manner. At no point in this book do you get the Kevin Smith Bluntman and Chronic tongue-in-cheek silly stoner wink and nod. Unfortunately, this book is likely to be doomed to only preach to the choir. A majority of the people that pick up this title will already have strong feelings when it comes to topics like hemp production and the world’s dependence on artificially created medicine. That being said, the people that agree with the creators on these topics won’t likely walk away feeling like they were being talked down to. There is some actual social commentary in the story once you get past some of the goofier items.

Beyond everything else, perhaps the best reason to pick up this book is because of the artwork of Jim Mahfood. His slick and retro-feeling style is just beyond gorgeous. With beautiful women and evil business men that will invoke an air of Pink Floyd, the art in this book is far from the typical ’90s-inspired muscle-bound super-hero fare. He has a wonderful ability to draw darkly, yet not have a lack of color. Purples, blues, and of course greens just jump off the page when contrasted by the heavy shadows and dark lines Mahfood uses. It is quite the treat to see in this sometimes cookie cutter industry.

Overall, this book is more about the semi-spiritual connection that some marijuana users feel than cheap stoner jokes and dime store psychedelics. No one will accuse the message of this story of being subtle, but with a name like Marijuana Man, you can assume the content will be rather straightforward. While this message is appealing to the loving cosmic child types, many others will find it silly and trite, but the art will appeal to anyone that appreciates unique and beautiful comic work. In the end, it’s a mediocre concept with beautiful execution and should likely be avoided by “squares.”

[xrr rating=3.5/5]

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