NEIL YOUNG'S 2003 ALBUM GREENDALE is one of the enigmatic artist's strangest albums, a splintered and impressionistic concept album about the Green family and the small American town where they live. Musically, it was some of Young's simplest material—but lyrically, it was a tangle of tiny details and overly broad strokes. The album was hit and miss, but the stage show and tour he did for the album were excellent, bringing the material clarity and an urgency the other formats lacked. Now, it's a graphic novel out from Vertigo, which initially seems like a puzzling and unnecessary move.
The good news is that the comic—written by Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier), with artwork by Cliff Chiang (Human Target)—stands independently from the record, veering quite a bit from Young's original storyline. It focuses entirely on the character of Sun Green, the Greens' teenage daughter who becomes an environmental activist. In Dysart's version, Sun is part of a long line of Green women who possess goddess-like powers over the earth, and she has visions of a man in a red coat—the devil, of course—who corrupts the men around her.
When Greendale hews to Young's story—Sun's cousin shoots a cop; her grandfather suffers a heart attack—it gets bogged in melodrama, but when it branches from the blueprint to describe a mystic battle of the elements, the book finds its strength, an eerie and timely environmental fable where humans and earth are inextricably linked.