Sun Green was seemingly born into a life of destiny. The Green family—for whom her native town of Greendale, California, is named—has a history of odd behavior, particularly when it comes to its women. The Green women are vexing, to say the least—they often have strange powers over nature and certainly over men—and they have an odd habit of disappearing, never to be heard from again.
Sun Green happens to be born at a time that will put her, when she reaches adulthood, at the center of both political and environmental concerns, placing her on a date with destiny. Sun and her twin sister, Luna, are born in 1985, but Luna doesn’t make it. Sun thrives, however, growing strong and confident, with uncanny abilities (like being able to climb just about anything, charming the animals on her parents’ farm, communing with nature in unexplained ways). When she reaches 18, in 2003, she’s a strong young woman trying to balance life in this small rural town with a desire to explore—and change—the world.
Greendale is based on a concept album by Neil Young, which was in turn converted to both an opera and a film (directed by Young himself). In this adaptation, writer Joshua Dysart (author of the excellent Unknown Soldier) and artist Cliff Chiang (Human Target) take the story and give it life in comics form. Dysart and Chiang do a wonderful job of bringing Sun’s entire extended family to life, a notable accomplishment considering how many of them there are: In addition to Sun’s parents, there is Sun’s grandfather, suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease; his second wife; Sun’s cousin; Sun’s great-grandmother; Sun’s grand-uncle; as well as those aforementioned Green women who have disappeared through the years. Keeping track of all of those family members would normally be a quite difficult task, but Dysart and Chiang achieve a comfort level in their storytelling that makes it easy to follow along. It’s as though you’re sitting on your grandmother’s sun porch, drinking iced tea, listening to an amazing story being told, and because it’s so well done, you have no trouble keeping up.