Needs music

Neil Young’s 2003 concept album set in Northern California gets the graphic-novel treatment, but it mostly reveals that it takes less plot to make a rock album work than it does for a graphic novel. There’s a really cool matriarchal thing going on, and the young female protagonist, Sun Green, is smart, independent and determined to find out the truth about her family’s history. There are deep family secrets, including special powers related to the natural forces of the world, and more than a few unhappy relationships. The art work is fully realized and hypnotic. But by far the most intriguing part of Greendale is the subplot about Sun’s cousin, a disaffected young man who gets involved in drug running and ends up committing a crime he never intended. The economic wasteland that these small-town youth inherit is real enough, and no superpower is going to fix that.