Ziggy Marley’s Marijuanaman (Image)

To celebrate 4/20, reggae star Ziggy Marley introduces a THC-powered superhero whose never-ending battle can be summed up in two words: legalize it.




48 pgs., full color; $24.99
(W: Ziggy Marley & Joe Casey; A: Jim Mahfood)
You might think a stoned superhero would be too busy counting dots on the ceiling, searching his cupboards for Smartfood, and/or arguing that Pink Floyd wrote Dark Side of the Moon as a secret and subversive score to The Wizard of Oz (they didn’t) to find time to soar through the skies and save the world, but that isn’t the case in Ziggy Marley’s Marijuanaman. The peaceful yet powerful Sedona—native of the planet Yelram (it’s possible “Yelram” spelled backwards is somehow meaningful)—is friend and protector of the people of Exodus, a community of enlightened, hemp-loving folk led by their wizened guru, Wiggy. Exodus rails against the oppression and lies of the ruthless corporation Pharma-Con, and now that Pharma-Con’s evil CEO Mr. White has hired the sadistic mercenary Cash Money to slaughter the soldiers of Exodus, the world will need Marijuanaman more than ever.
Ziggy Marley’s Marijuanaman is equal parts superhero romp, social commentary, and rock ’n’ roll fable. While it’s by no means pure parody, the creators have fun with the concept’s inherent humor. Good guys are named with stoner lingo like Wiggy, Smokestack, and (for Marijuanaman’s love interest) MJ. Green trails of smoke follow Marijuanaman as he soars through the sky. We learn that inhabitants of Marijuanaman’s home planet have THC instead of DNA. When Marijuanaman is weakened after a battle with Cash Money, MJ revives him by lighting a joint and blowing smoke into his mouth.
Ziggy Marley and Joe Casey do not suffer any subtlety with their metaphor. If you want to know what characters or places symbolize, you just read their names. Mr. White. Cash Money. Yelram. The story is fairly light on plot and heavy (in more ways than one) on message. The message is fitting for its 4/20 release: marijuana should be legalized, marijuana can help save the world, and it’s only the pharmaceutical giants and their destructive greed that stands in the way of that happening.
There were a lot of things about Ziggy Marley’s Marijuanaman that convinced me this review would largely be a negative one: Ziggy Marley’s involvement and the knee-jerk reaction questioning whether or not it would be published without his name attached, my preconceived notions of most pot-related entertainment including easy and unimpressive humor that only makes me laugh if I’m sucking the stuff in myself, and finally the book’s pro-legalization message. While I believe marijuana should be legalized, I generally don’t react well to arguments that it—or any drug—is the answer to society’s ills. Not to mention that for just under 50 pages, $25 seems like a hefty price tag.
Jim Mahfood’s art and Justin Stewart’s vibrant colors won me over in the end. The book looks stylish, cool, and evoked memories of MTV’s Liquid Television. Mahfood’s crazy perspective angles and wildly disproportionate figures would be a risk in a mainstream superhero comic, but they’re perfectly suited for Marijuanaman. There’s a great mix of pages that would thrill any superhero action fan versus pages that belong on the covers of Grateful Dead or Phish albums.
Ziggy Marley’s Marijuanaman is a fun and visually impressive book. The art helped me get past my preconceived notions and enjoy it simply as a fun comic. The price tag, however, is something of a deal breaker for me, which is fitting considering one of the story’s villains is Cash Money. If you’re a big Marley fan, if you’re partial to stoner-flavored entertainment, if you’re a marijuana legalization advocate, or if you just enjoy the novelty of grabbing a book with a stoner superhero released on the week of 4/20; then the inflated price may not be such an obstacle. Otherwise, your money would probably be better spent elsewhere. | Mick Martin
Click here for a preview of Marijuanaman, right here at PLAYBACK:stl!

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