Bad Machinery: The Case of the Simple Soul, by John Allison

First up: I know this cover was decided on long before I complained about the overly cutesy packaging featured on the previous two volumes in this series, but I'm taking credit for this eye-popping image anyway. Thanks, Oni Press! And don't worry: that little arsonist is adorable. I'm sure the kids will still want to read alllll about her.

The Case of the Simple Soul is the third installment in John Allison's Bad Machinery series, and probably my favorite. Allison's middle-school detectives are experiencing some growing pains (mostly caused by Shauna and Jack's desire to spend their summer alternately kissing and staring intensely at one another), and it's casting a damper over everyone's will to investigate. This bad news for the Tackleford Troll—a goodhearted, if scantily clad, creature living peacefully under a bridge. When the dim-witted local fire brigade decides the Troll is an arsonist, the Bad Machinery kids realize they need to set aside their own troubles and apprehend the real culprit.

Allison recently announced that he's ending Bad Machinery and returning his focus to the wider world of Tackleford. I'm still totally bummed out about this, and The Case of the Simple Soul just deepens my pain. Frankly, Allison's child characters are more interesting than his adult ones, and the Bad Machinery cases—and relationships—are more fun than reading about Shelley Winters's super-awesome car, implausibly successful career, or bad-decision-inducing sex appeal. (I worry that Allison might be legit in love with Shelley, which is distressing on two fronts, seeing as she is 1. not real, and 2. his own creation.) Admittedly, even Allison's B-grade work is still super fun, but the awesomeness of The Case of the Simple Soul is a sharp reminder of how much I prefer his Bad Machinery strips.
Posted by: Julianka


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