Let me preface this review with the acknowledgement that I have never before read a graphic novel and that my only experience with comics is Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, a handful of webcomics and of course the recent wave of comic book movies (Dark Knight in IMAX is still sold out, WTF). Forgive me if I accidentally criticize something that’s conventional of graphic novels.
Method Man tells the story of a chapter in the life of Peerless Poe, once a member of The Clandestine Order of the Sacred Method (or Method Men), who defected to solve street crimes on his own. As a great evil rises, Poe must side with his old team again to save the world. The character of Peerless Poe is obviously based on one of hip-hop’s most beloved personalities: the blunt-smoking, stage-diving master entertainer, Method Man. Having met him, I can assure you he’s every bit as cool as he seems.
The setting and atmosphere is entirely worthy of the Wu-Tang logo on the title page. Both the Method Men and the rising threat they face are rooted in Biblical events. The charm of the story is that at the center of all the Bible references and talk of ancient traditions, there’s ghetto ass Peerless Poe who likes weed, sex and money. This directly parallels Wu-Tang, which mixes Chinese folklore, by way of 60s/70s kung fu flicks, with grimy beats and equally grimy raps. In that regard, Method Man is on point. And also, there are ninjas, which just seals the deal.
My main problem is that the story just feels rushed. Poe’s character is barely established before three forgettable characters are hastily introduced. The group quickly moves from place and before you know it, the whole thing is over. There’s even a cheap little love story in the middle of it too.
My other gripe is that there isn’t enough of what makes the whole thing special, namely Peerless Poe. His presence is reduced to a quip here and there. The allure of Wu-Tang is the result of a calculated balance between kung fu and hip hop. On “Da Mystery of Chessboxin,’” there’s four lines dialogue from Five Deadly Venoms and then it launches into a full-fledged rap song with kind of a kung fu twinge. The problem with Method Man is that most of the time, all Poe does is react to stuff in a funny way; he encounters an enemy and says, “King-of-Hell-Devil Fist Style? N—a what?”. He takes a backseat to all the things going on around him. Unfortunately, Peerless Poe is only a hair above all the rest of the wisecracking action heroes.
I’m not going to act like I have any kind of eye for art, but I liked the way the characters are drawn. Peerless Poe and his cohorts (peers?) are slickly drawn, but the creatures on the other hand are pretty generic.
Method Man is a fun read despite its problems. Ultimately though, this graphic novel is meant for the die-hard Wu-Tang fans who will appreciate the scattered, though obvious, Wu references.
And to anyone who knows more about comics than I do, recommend me something good!