Bad Machinery Vol. 1: Case of the Team Spirit

Writer/Artist: John Allison
Publisher: Oni Press

Bad Machinery – The Case of the Team Spirit follows six grammar school children throughout their daily lives and as they solve mysterious. Equal parts slice of life comedy and supernatural mystery, though with a much heavier emphasis on the former, Bad Machinery focuses on cutesy characters and humor, and is generally a fun, light-hearted read.

However, and this may be more my fault than the book’s itself, it just never clicked for me.

I never once laughed or chuckled or smiled in amusement while reading it; every single joke fell flat. And for a comedy, that’s a pretty big problem. I never quite clicked with the characters, either. The book is split between “the boys”, Sonny, Linton, and Jack, and “the girls”, Shauna, Charlotte, and Mildred. The two groups almost never interact, which seems like a waste. And while I understand Bad Machinery isn’t going for particularly complex characters, it’s never a good thing when characters can be reduced to just one trait, especially when there’s a lot of overlap. Both Jack and Sonny could be described as “the quiet one”, and both Charlotte and Mildred could be described as “the troublemaker”.

The art style is yet another miss for me. I think it’s maybe that it has too many sharp angles to really be cute, and that it’s a little too expressive to the point of characters looking weird. It reminded me of Oxenfree, which wasn’t good for Bad Machinery because that just made me think about how much more I liked the characters and mystery and humor in Oxenfree.

That story isn’t really worth talking about because it’s just there to facilitate the humor and character interactions, but for what it’s worth it’s the story of a cursed football team owner, with the boys trying to figure out the curse, while the girls… aren’t really involved in the mystery. In fact, just like how the boys and the girls never interact, the humor and the mystery don’t really interact. The girls have all of the jokes while the boys handle the mystery, and again, it feels like a waste.

Bad MachineryThe Case of the Team Spirit is also the first in a series of books, but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s everyone’s first day of school, yet they all know each other and have already established their friendships and what they do. They’ve also already solved several mysteries. Again, it feels like a waste. We don’t see them becoming friends or solve a mystery for the first time, that’s all already been established, and it’s only confusing and serves to make the reader feel like they’re hoping in at the midway point.

I don’t want to be so harsh on this book. A lot of elements of this book are just bad decisions, the lack of character interaction, the shallow characters, the fact most of the characters and story has already been established before it started, but just as much I think is just my own preferences affecting my opinions.

There’s a part of Bad Machinery that I really want to like, but for whatever reason, it’s just a series of miss after miss for me. The characters, the humor, the art style, the story, none of it quite worked for me. Still, if you’re looking for a slice of life comedy with elements of a supernatural mystery, maybe you’ll like it more than I did.

Rating: 2.5/5

More Info: For more information on Bad Machinery – The Case of the Team Spirit and Oni Press, check out their website, twitter, and facebook page.

Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.

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