Topside by J.N Monk &  Harry Bogosian 

A wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way.

Publisher: Graphic Universe
ISBN: 1512445894
Pages: 200
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Personal Rating:

When Jo, a headstrong maintenance technician, makes an error that destabilizes her planet’s core, she only knows one way to fix things: leaving her underground home for a trip to the planet’s dangerous, unruly surface. Soon she’s wandering through deserts, riding on the back of giant beasts, and cutting deals with con artists and bounty hunters. Meanwhile, agents of the core are in hot pursuit. J. N. Monk and Harry Bogosian (co-creators of the web-comic StarHammer) present a wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way

Thank you to Lerner Publishing Group Graphic Universe for giving me this an advanced digital copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This graphic novel follows the story of Jo, a young girl who lives on a planet that constantly needs fixing. After screwing up a job she decides to take go on her own to fix her screw up without alerting anyone, but obviously, people find out she travels to the Topside.

Topside world-building and style is exactly what you expect from an outer-space fantasy — weird alien creatures, unexplained superpowers, adventure, and cool technology. The idea and essence of Topside were promising, but it, unfortunately, failed to deliver. The graphic novel had absolutely no plot, or at least it had several plots that did not merge together nor came to a solution. The characters were flat and unmemorable, I felt nothing for them except for the shark lady and the lightbulb dude — but still did not feel enough attachment remember their names.

The main problem was that J.K Monk and Harry Bogosian tried to create this complex world with intertwining story arcs but gave no explanation or conclusion to them. Jo, in particular, set out to fit out the core she damaged (and according to the book’s description it was the planet’s core but it never made that big of a deal) but never actually did in the end? Instead at the end the characters somehow became the protectors of the planet and it is never really explained aside from that. All other goals before that suddenly just vanished.

However, the art style was quite pleasant. It reminded me of a Ghibli style with really round-faced characters, mind-boggling backgrounds, and creatures. It brought back memories of the days I obsessively watched Porco Rosso.

Overall, it is an average graphic novel. It’s worth a read if you want to appreciate the art but not worth it if you’re looking for a well-plotted story.

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