I had no idea what to expect going into The Secret History of the War on Weed. The title and the cover set your mind into thinking two complete opposites this story could go in. The title seems like it would be more at home on Netflix, akin to something like Breaking Bad or a documentary. Then the cover image is pure 90s at its best, all bulging muscles and big guns! The creative team has all worked together before on a popular Deadpool run, offering an indication of the direction the comic will take. The narration keeps the straight-laced tone of the title for five pages. After that, it is best to strap in and enjoy the ride.
Do you need to ever have smoked or be smoking weed to enjoy this comic? Well, I have never done it, and this comic was a blast. A lot of the enjoyment came from the number of 80s/90s action movies that are mentioned. Also, there are a few comic book references too to crack a smile along the way.
There are some activity pages within the story, the kid you get in a children’s book. I imagine it would provide much hilarity to see someone high as a kite attempt one of these. I don’t usually seek out comics for the humour, but this had me laughing out loud a handful of times, whether at the expense of an action movie I probably loved at the time or the sheer grotesque nature of some of his foes are dispatched. This is a comic that doesn’t take itself too seriously at all. Entertaining the reader is the prime objective. It’s like everyone involved in the creative process knew the assignment from the beginning. If you have a comic release on 4/20, just deliver a fun comic; be bold, brash in the reader’s face, and be able to laugh at yourself. The Secret History of The War on Weed ticks all those boxes. You can read every comic published this year, and you are not going to get a dinosaur and a weed-induced homage to the great Alan Moore and Jon Totleben Swamp Thing comics all in one place.
At the end of the story, the narration takes a serious tone, again playing up the contrast that opened the comic. It throws up some of the unfortunate scenarios that have been created by legalizing weed. Such as “people serving sentences for offenses that have since been decriminalized.” While I don’t think the writers put this information here to preach to the lawmakers, I do feel their inclusion is important. It will create debate among readers, and for a reader like me in the UK, it really shines a light on a subject I didn’t know much about. Koblish is a dependable artist who can easily transition between talking heads to high octane action and tell a story through the artwork.
The star of the show for me is the colours. They are bright and vibrant to match the tone of the story. Of course, there is plenty of green! Also, there are colourful characters and well-selected colour palettes for the settings. One particular panel that stood out for me was a sequence in Vietnam. The familiar image of soldiers silhouetted against a napalm orange sky.
If you like your comics packed full of action and nostalgia or the previous works of Duggan, Posehn, and Koblish, then you are going to have a very good, new comic book day on 4/20. The Secret History of The War on Weed is Breaking Bad mixed with 90’s comics, with a dash of Punisher MAX added in just for fun!