Book Review: Michael Jackson In Comics

Release Date: February 12th, 2020

Nearly 12 years after his death, the success and troubled life of Michael Jackson continues to fascinate us. From documentaries to new books, we can’t stop talking about the late King of Pop. Can you blame us? He was the biggest and most eccentric pop star whose many controversies overshadowed his career. Even with everything we know about Jackson, he remains mysterious with his untimely death adding to his mythological status. NBM’s latest comic anthology, Michael Jackson in Comics, attempts to show us who Jackson really was. Unfortunately, it fails.

Featuring comics by various writers and artists, the collection presents itself as a visual biography of Jackson. Rather, it’s a hodgepodge of poorly written stories with lackluster art. The biggest issue is the book’s overall lack of direction. All the comics are somewhat related to Jackson, but what they about vary. Comics range from Jackson’s upbringing to his impact on fashion to his loyal fans and his relationship with Diana Ross. There’s no chronological structure to the book making it a frustrating read. Adding to the confusion are the constantly shifting perspectives. Some are written from Jackson’s perspective, others are from the writer’s perspective, and one of them is narrated by Bubbles the Chimp.

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The stories themselves are poorly written and dull. Many of them don’t even have a conclusion. Rather, they’re incomplete anecdotes that add nothing to Jackson’s narrative. His success and troubled personal life give us a lot to talk about. Instead, we get mundane comics about Jackson not showing up at the 2008 Grammy awards. Other times, the book is repetitive. Each chapter begins with summaries related to the singer’s life – his trial, his relationship with his father, his various accolades, etc. But this same information is found in the comics that follow, sometimes verbatim. These summaries spoil the comics, which is the crux of the book. They’re meant to add context but make the comics less exciting in the process.

Michael Jackson In Comics is a great concept, but it’s poorly executed. Jackson’s story is well known, but the book could’ve retold it in a unique and stylish way. Instead, it’s a poorly written, ugly mess. It’s such an unsatisfying read. At least Rock N Roll Comics’ Jackson issue talks about him in a way that’s fun and engaging. This collection is sadly a bore. There are countless books that are better at telling Jackson’s story, such as Making Michael by Mike Smallcombe and The Genius of Michael Jackson by Steve Knopper. This one should be avoided at all costs.

Michael Jackson in Comics is out now.

Michael Jackson in Comics
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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.

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