Pop Gun War - Farel Dalrymple I've been really lucky lately. I seem to have had a long string of excellent graphic novels in my "to read" pile. Pop Gun War is no exception. Farel Dalrymple's art is complex and expressive, not only in this work, but in others, as well. It's hard to pin down the plotline of Pop Gun War, as it is more mythical than prosaic, more concerned with philosophy than structure. At times, it can get just a touch pedantic, but by and large the thematic thread of being controlled by both our inner passions and by outside influences is satisfactory and gives the reader pause when considering his or her own actions, as well as the actions of others. Dalrymple does an outstanding job of causing the reader to question intent, rather than simply casting characters as good or evil. The "good guys" are allowed their weaknesses, and the "bad guys" might not be bad simply because of their own choices - they may simply be the victims of their outer circumstances, controlled by others, like puppets on a string. It's clear that many of the characters who find themselves in unpleasant circumstances are trapped by lies fed to them by others. The real beauty of this work is that the "good" people in it maintain their innocence without falling into naivete. Judging the characters on a binary good/evil criterion is foolish in this case. Perhaps Dalrymple is asking us, in our non-fictional lives, to consider carefully that everyone is capable of good or evil and each of us has a bit of both within. This is quite heady stuff for a graphic novel, and Dalrymple mostly succeeds in giving readers reasons to carefully consider where they fall on the spectrum. Again, it's not a perfect mythology, and can be heavy handed, at times. But overall, the author has created here a gritty, yet beautiful contemplation of human nature and the ascendance of beauty and innocence above the tough streets of the urban center.