Recursion’s End by Emma Groom
U-26 Comics (July 2022)
189 pages; $15.00 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
By day, Emma Groom is an undergrad biologist. She’s an entrepreneur specializing in aquaponics and exotic plants/animals with prior work experience in prairie restoration. By night, however, Groom is a comic book artist, and her newest graphic novel is the epic Recursion’s End.
Readers will be impressed by Groom’s attempts at world building and history building. She set out to write what would easily be a thousand-page epic fantasy, and has clearly thought about the world, it’s history, etc. There are three main political factions in this world — The Southern Union, The Northern Monarchy, and Avolon — and they all have their unique interests and aims, as well as societal norms and standards. A lot of thought has gone into this book.
Furthermore, it’s clear that Groom is expecting her art and her book to do more than merely entertain or titillate. There are a lot of political allusions to this tale, and while readers might be hesitant to call it allegorical, all the ingredients are certainly there. It’s nice to see a young author use their art to make a statement and not merely attempt to entertain. There’s a passion and a purpose behind this book, and it shows.
That being said, this is clearly an amateur production. Groom has done the art herself, as well as the panels, and the narrative structure of the book struggles because of this. Groom has some great ideas, but they’re poorly executed on the page. The art itself is rough and while it’s not sloppy, there is a sense that Groom is not well-versed with graphic novel standards, so the pages and the repeated patterns get a little monotonous and sloppy, which detracts from the overall story.
Emma Groom should be championed for trying to buck the established systems. Creators have a lot of options now in getting their art to people, and the DIY aesthetic of these books should be championed. That being said, because this is a DIY venture, the slick graphics and art are lacking, and readers’ expectations will be challenged, and many of them left wanting. Overall, this is a really solid concept, but it’s poorly executed, and readers will struggle to engage with this book.