Publisher: Image/Skybound
Writer/Artist: Tri Vuong
Colorist: Annalisa Leoni
Letterer: Rus Wooton

This is the finale of Garmadon’s adventure in Two Moon village. It has everything I’ve come to love about this series; the theme of redemption, action, bears, people pulling together, bongo playing! It’s packed full of all those things and it’s a really great issue. This issue resolves the current plot line but not Garmadon’s journey. In a way this has felt like one of those satisfying films where a stranger wanders into town, adventure happens and then he wanders off at the end with the possibility of a return and adventures elsewhere. This does feel satisfying yet also I’d love more, so as finale issues go this has done exactly what it set out to do.

When we last left things the villagers were going to fight back against Mogra and the Red Crows. They had rescued Garmadon and nursed him back to health. Now he’s leaving them. Yet as always there’s subtext there, the pull of the part of Garmadon that wants to help versus his evil selfish self. Of course the humour lies in that the villagers think they are better off tackling the threat themselves. Along with a fake out moment as Garmadon thinks they have returned to ask for his help when they haven’t. It’s a wonderful mix of humour and character insight.

Of course Garmadon might set off on his journey but something will bring him back. The issue prologue has the Red Crows attacking the bears. Garmadon finds them and there’s a really tender moment. Let’s not forget he was beating the bears up a few issues ago and yet now he displays empathy with them. It’s a sign of how far he’s come on this redemptive journey. This is not the same Garmadon who strolled into the village, who fought the bears. Yes he’s still selfish and he’s still a bit evil but there’s more to him. It’s been a really solid bit of organic character development. Bear in mind (pun intended) this is character development of a Lego villain character at that.

The art really backs it up. I’m going to say there is a rather beautiful panel of Garmadon and a bear which is just rather tender. The expressions on the faces of both Garmadon and the bears throughout the pages where they meet are just perfect and sell it so well. Never would I have thought that a drawing of a Lego character could emote that well. He does though.

That’s true of all the villagers too. There are also some little great details in the fight scenes from characters brandishing frying pans to bears surging forward. The fight scenes are just wonderfully choreographed in the art. They are fun and yet there’s still some tension there especially as we see a showdown between Mogra and Garmadon. There are some genuinely tense moments.

I won’t spoil what happens. I will say though that there’s a happy kind of ending. The way the villagers take charge and stop asking others for help is a really neat little lesson for the younger readers. As this is after all an all ages comic, but one done the right way. This doesn’t pander to the kids and has enough humour, drama and character development to please adults whilst also being great for younger readers to experience. There’s no reason to skimp on quality of art and writing just because this is an all ages Lego Ninjago book. So it doesn’t. It has something for everyone.

Not all the questions are answered. The identity of Mogra is still merely hinted at. We don’t know where Garmadon will go next, his redemption is not quite complete. This is why I would love to see more because there is lots here to build on. At the same time what is here is done so well that if this is all we get of Garmadon in this format I’m happy we did.

I admit I went into this series purely because my nephews love Ninjago. I had some vague knowledge and was intrigued. I am so glad I read this. I’m saying it now, this is one of the best comics I have read this year. It has everything I love humour, drama, character development and insight, a strong narrative thread and art that works entirely with that. People might be put off by all ages Lego Ninjago comic but they shouldn’t be. This is what comics are all about. Yes it’s a tie in to a popular media brand but it’s so elevated that brand.

I am very much recommending this comic whether you are a Lego Ninjago fan or not. Remember at the end of today you can consult the Wiki. Don’t deprive yourself of a good time. Do what the villagers do, take a chance on Garmadon. You won’t regret it (unless you start fighting bears).

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