The Monkey Meat Corporation has fallen. After 4 issues setting up its far-reaching menace and power, the fifth and final installment in Juni Ba’s Monkey Meat mini-series opens by revealing that the company has met with an ironic fate. All it took was a consumer who’s a bit more enthusiastic than most. Someone so in love in with canned monkey meat that he’d eat the company out of their signature stock. Now the only option left to them is pouring whatever resources they have left into killing the little glutton. There’s comfort in knowing that there are things even the world’s most powerful company couldn’t see coming.
Juni Ba wastes no time in establishing the stakes of Monkey Meat #5, opening on a page of the mysterious “Golo,” equipped only with a massive, bloody can opener and a bottomless appetite. By page 2, he’s already cutting a swath through the company, smashing his way past employees in a bid to swallow can after can of processed meat. Page 4 has the company build a giant robot to stop him. This is an issue that moves fast, reveling in the chaos of collapse, while the Monkey Meat Corporation’s desperate bid to save what they can only compounds the violence and destruction. Because that giant robot won’t stay tame for long.
Up until this issue, the Monkey Meat stories tended to focus on individuals either trying to do their best in a corrupt system or being corrupted by it themselves. So there’s dark humor in the ultimate agent of change being an empty-eyed maniac. Characters throughout the issue can’t help but pin all their hopes on Golo, even while Ba makes it clear how selfish and thoughtless the character is. He’s positioned as an unsatisfying answer to a far-reaching problem. Up until now, there’s been nothing the company couldn’t monetize. But they’re undone by a grotesque parody of the ultimate consumer. Golo is a bit of a problem himself, though at least one that can finally rid the world of the Monkey Meat Corporation. And maybe there’s a small flame of righteousness within him, waiting to take over and inspire the people around him towards societal change. Maybe.
Juni Ba jumps between chaotic all-out battles and quiet scenes of destruction as the island the series has taken place on slowly crumbles. Golo provides the energy and momentum for the issue, constantly wearing his emotions on his sleeve as he sways between extremes. He’s a silent, simple, cartoon character, coming from the tradition of Tom and Jerry or Wile E. Coyote, just with the sinister undercurrent of unchecked consumption. It gives all the heavier ideas the comic is tackling a lively touch. This is both a comic that dwells on the consequences of rampant consumerism and one where a man fights a robot with a giant can opener. The neon reds, yellows, and oranges, aid the comic by feeling simultaneously foreboding and energetic. His lettering keeps up the pace with the rest of his art, showing serious variety in expressing sounds. Shouts are rendered in scratchy, frantic lines, quieter footsteps in thick, simple brushstrokes. Not to mention Ba’s ability to throw out fun, memorable designs at a manic pace. Monkey Meat may have many modern anxieties at heart, but it’s a joy to look at.
Monkey Meat has been one of the best books on the stands since it debuted, and the concluding issue is no different. It’s out from Image Comics today, so make sure to pick one up, as this may be your last chance to grab the series off the stands. Though perhaps not. Companies as large as the Monkey Meat Corporation rarely stay down for long.