Lo, There Shall Be An Ending
Marcial Toledano and Jose Manuel Robledo wrap things up with the third volume of “Ken Games” in a way that is satisfying and conclusive.
But here’s the thing — you have to pay attention to every word in this book. It’ll help if you remember lots of words from previous volumes, too.
While the first two volumes were fairly straight-forward thrillers with the complicating time jumps, this one does all of that while working on multiple levels. There’s another movie sequence to read carefully into. There’s a major mathematical theory that’s discussed early in the volume that you should go back and reread the dialogue about after you’ve finished the album. You’ll see the obvious parallels. It’s a fitting outline to the ending for the series.
I’ve read the thing three times already. Happily. It makes more sense to me each time.
This isn’t to say it was confusing on the first read. You can do a surface reading of this and admire the plot mechanics and enjoy the way the characters’ arcs conclude. When you pay more careful attention to it, though, you will be rewarded.
Robledo hits hard on the liars narration in this volume. Remember, it’s Scissor’s turn to narrate this volume, and we learn of her crazy “origin story,” as well.
We knew she’s something of a writer. She famously left lots of little scraps of her writing to TJ, including in the papers he wrapped his tobacco in. This volume starts with a meditation on how being a writer is like being a professional liar. Her assassin career only adds new layers to that. It all raises the question, “Is she also lying to herself?”
How Anne became an assassin and how she copes with it and rearranges her world view to match her nasty calling is tragic, but logical. (At least, so far as this kind of thing usually goes…) It’s easy to get pulled into her world and mindset. Toledano’s art and colors find ways to visualize her point of view. It’s a neat trick you’ll have to read the book to finally understand.
Miscellaneous Short Thoughts
I’ve said everything I think I can say about the art and coloring in the series in previous reviews. Nothing changes here. There is no let up from Toledano in the final volume. It’s not like this was a rush job. There was more than a year between the publication dates on volumes 2 and 3, which had to help.
Toledano draws everything with manic detail, from the backgrounds to the characters who look and act naturally. The coloring separates the scenes well, particularly in scenes with lot of cuts between locations (and sometimes also time).
The book starts shortly after the concluding scene of volume 2. That’s where TJ proposes to Anne and instantly discovers that she’s a professional murderer. He doesn’t take it very well at first, kicking off a downward spiral. (And the last two pages of Volume 2 are still amazing. I need to mention that in every “Ken Games” review from here on out.)
We get more Paul Newman movies along the way. Most interestingly, there’s a quote from “Road to Perdition” that fits perfectly with the story. You’d almost think Robledo set up the whole series just to pay homage to that beautiful comic book-based movie. (Oh, Conrad Hall, you were amazing!)
Scissors make an incredibly difficult move at the end of this book to wrap everything up with a neat bow. If you think about it, there are a couple of dangling threads to be picked up, but the ending is so satisfying, I’m not worried about those. They’re secondary issues. The main character arcs are solid, with plenty of motivation and changes from the first page to the last.
Thankfully, the series didn’t lose steam or focus with the conclusion to its storyline. It got a little more artistic, perhaps, with the reliance on the dialogue’s literary merits adding up to more than the first two volumes, but that’s an addition and not a gripe.
In preparing to write this review, I’ve basically reread the series for a second time all over again, and am still finding little things that connect together or make more sense now that I know the “whole” story.
“Ken Games” is an excellent thriller, the kind you could probably give to a non-comics person who’s into crime novels or thrillers or just dramas, in general.
I have reviewed all four chapters of this story. Here are where you can find the rest: