“Diesel” Review: Bringing Fun Back to Comics

Dylan Pearl ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Diesel Character Design
Diesel Character Designs

There’s a trend in comics these days. Things have to be darker, grittier. Protagonists have to have serious drinking problems, or dead parents, or both. It’s a trend that’s been on the rise since the 80’s, when Batman went from fun loving crime solver to brooding punisher of the wicked. This can be fun, but after a while it does become grating. There’s only so much misery and pain a person can handle. Besides, this type of storytelling showcases only a fraction of what comics are capable of. They can be colorful, and wacky, and fun, full of the sense of adventure and magic that brought so many people to comics in the first place. It’s that element that has been sorely missing from recent comics, and it’s what makes Diesel, written and drawn by Tyson Hesse, so great. It’s the sort of action-packed story you might’ve conjured up as a child, unfettered by the rules and restrictions of everyday life. From its wonderful visuals, to its colorful characters, to its grand setting, this series is everything comics didn’t know it needed.

Diesel follows a girl, Dee, who has inherited Peacetowne, a floating city, from her father. Think steampunk Howl’s Moving Castle done in the style of Scott Pilgrim. However, command of the ship has been given to her rival, Cap, and along with her robot sidekick, Rickets, Dee has been relegated to a lowly garage position, until a mysterious floating engine falls out of the sky.

Diesel Concept Art
Diesel Concept Art

The set up is compelling, and the world of Peacetowne provides an expansive and fantastical canvas on which to paint the story. But it is Dee herself that really captivates. Funny, headstrong, brave and independent. These are the attributes of a hero, and ones that Dee has in spades. They make her instantly likeable, while still providing much room for her to grow as a person, a must have for any story. She has rich relationships with all the characters seen so far; she shows anger, selfishness, and curiosity. In short, she’s a real person, with real flaws and a relatable personality. Not to mention, Dee’s as of yet unexplained electricity powers make for some interesting possibilities in Diesel’s machine centric world.

The art style is extremely refreshing. Colorful and slightly deformed, it supports the playful tone of the work perfectly. More importantly though, the cartoony style means Diesel is unshackled by the laws of realism that burden many of it’s comic contemporaries. The characters can hyper emote, contorting their faces beyond the limits of what is normally possible for comedic, and sometimes dramatic, effect. And, like Scott Pilgrim, Diesel uses visual comedy masterfully. This is an oft-overlooked aspect of comics. Comics are a visual medium; they are stories told with pictures. And yet, too often these stories, and the comedy in them, are almost entirely dialog driven. This is not the case for Diesel. Many times, the funniest moments come when the characters say nothing at all. It’s their facial expressions, done in super deformed comic style, that bring the heavy laughs.

Overall, this is an excellent comic. Compelling characters and a unique setting hold up a fun, adventurous story. Definitely worth checking out.


Rating: 9/10

Diesel #1 is published by BOOM! Studios for the price of $3.99.

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