Last Mountain 2 by Dakota McFadzean
Birdcage Bottom Books, 2015
36 pages / $7 buy from Birdcage Bottom Books
Remember Napoleon Dynamite? I really connected with that movie when it came out. It’s a film all about the nerd winning acceptance from his peers and finding love, or so my seventeen-year-old self thought until a friend pointed out how much of an asshole the eponymous character is in that movie.
Take the infamous liger scene, for example. This girl is actually trying to forge a genuine connection with ND and he shuts her down with his air of superiority. Of course this is a defense mechanism. I know it all too well as I’ve been on both sides of exchanges like this one. Napoleon is misunderstood, so he’s built up this air of superiority as a defensive coping mechanism. He’s rejecting others to avoid the sting of others rejecting him. He does it throughout the entire movie, too.
Dakota McFadzean’s Last Mountain 2 takes this concept of nerd superiority qua defense mechanism and develops it further with the issue’s main short story, “Buzzy.” McFadzean uses a clean, rounded pencil style printed in teal and black risograph on cream-colored paper creating an esthetic that’s reminiscent of Daniel Clowes by way of Nancy to depict his take on the new kid at school narrative. Danny is the newest fifth grader and he oscillates between sympathetic and combative, as he plays by himself in the schoolyard then kicks rocks and tells the other boys in the class to “FUCK OFF!” His classmate Jennifer notices him and tries to reach out to him, but Danny relies so heavily upon his sense of superiority that he just pushes her further away.
Of course this abrasiveness is Danny’s undoing as he is beaten up by the bully’s older cousin: an ouroboros of abuse, since Danny essentially acts violently first, but is then egged on by the boys in his class. Normally a story with such an unlikeable character doesn’t sustain itself well enough to be interesting, but McFadzean crafts a much more intriguing graphic story by placing the perspective in Jenny’s fascination and ultimate sympathy in Danny, the nerdy boy who flips desks and eats bugs, and it’s devastatingly moving because of it.