GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS by Brandon Dayton
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF MARTYRS begins a mysterious new adventure. Brandon Dayton's hero Alexey faces many fascinating ethical choices in a landscape of magic, evil, and ice.
95 %
An Ominous Start

Bogatyrs, the heroes of Slavic and Russian mythology, resemble the Knight-errant figure of Arthurian legends. The powerful warriors fought evil in the name of their political and religious beliefs. Evoking the legendary bogatyrs, YALSA Award-winning creator Brandon Dayton’s GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS begins an epic tale of a young man in the Russian city Novgorod. With an inauspicious start to life in the depths of a bitter Russian winter, Dayton’s hero, the young Alexey, struggles with the peaceful order of monks who raise him. Despite Alexey’s innate bravery and desire to protect the innocent, his rebelliousness drives him to frequent violent accidents. GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS from Image Comics introduces Dayton’s hero and the many ethical dilemmas the young man faces as he is plagued by strange dreams of dangerous challenges.

Dayton’s haunting artwork will thrill fans of Craig Thompson’s HABIBI or Tomm Moore’s animated film The Secret of the Kells. The combinations of religious austerity and verdant naturalism create the dramatic landscape for Alexey’s equally dramatic upbringing. As a result, GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS heralds the start of a dark new Bogatyr adventure.

GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS
Image courtesy of Image Comics.

Raised in Holiness? Complicating the Messianic Narrative

Brought to a monastery by a solitary woman, Alexey’s origins are practically Christlike. Although the religious symbolism comes on strong in GREEN MONK, Dayton crafts a complex Messianic story. Indeed, while Alexey stands out as the youngest monk in the order, and the most rebellious and kind, he’s not treated as a savior by his fellow monks. Instead, he is simply the last of a dying order. The monks emphasize unity and organization. However, Dayton’s hero is rash and chaotic despite his excellent intentions.

Alexey’s desire to protect others from harm is complicated by the monastic order to inflict no physical harm on others. When Alexey steps in to help those in need, he is frequently bloodied and bullied. The young man’s frustration mounts as he tries to balance his desire to help others with the drive to violently end injustice. Thus, Dayton ensures that the heroic figure struggles with the ethics of his chosen lifestyle. As a result, readers can more easily relate to the young hero.

Moreover, GREEN MONK insinuates that the monastic order is not always right. Dayton’s meandering dream sequences trouble Alexey and readers alike who start to see the dangers in following the monk’s lifestyle.

GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS
Image courtesy of Image Comics.

GREEN MONK as Environmental Warrior

One of the more common trends in knight legends is the juxtaposition between nature and culture. Typically the cultured hero defends the civilized world from the evil and uncivilized outside. However, in the case of GREEN MONK, Dayton plays with these tropes. For example, Alexey’s visions are filled with images akin to David and Goliath but also of strange animals and figures from the Russian mountains. The blend of symbols suggests that the binary culture vs. nature may not completely apply. Moreover, the way we treat the natural world has implications into how we can view what is sacred.

Dayton’s skillful rendering of the landscape makes Alexey’s emotions all the more understandable. While Dayton’s art emphasizes the natural world, with dangerous winters and beautiful wildlife, he also demonstrates the derelict houses and fraying culture that enacts violence on those who are different. Dayton’s crisp details and elegant illustrations highlight both the beauty and pain of Alexey’s world. Additionally, as Alexey’s dream world begins to creep in, Dayton’s bold illustrations of monsters and flowing spirits draws readers deeper into the narrative.

GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS
Image courtesy of Image Comics.

Mesmerizing

While many aspects of GREEN MONK leave more questions than answers, Dayton’s artwork more than makes up for the gaps. The wild landscapes of Alexey’s home, as well as the worn and tattered people in the town, fill the pages. Dayton’s illustrations emphasize Alexey’s imagination, desires, and yearning for more than his life at the monastery. However, the comic’s dark edge and violence add a foreboding feeling to the overall atmosphere.

GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS transports readers to a world of magic, monsters, and danger. Dayton carefully pictures Alexey’s struggle with his faith and dedication to the monastery. Together, the comic marks a fascinating introduction to the young monk’s adventures.

GREEN MONK: BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS is available here. Watch the preview here

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