Review: InvestiGators Are On The Case

by Rachel Bellwoar

You can’t spell “investigator” without “gator,” and it’s about time somebody capitalized on it. Meet the InvestiGators! A brand-new series from John Patrick Green, when Gustavo Mustachio, the cupcake chef, goes missing, Mango and Brash are on the case. Literally, Mango’s standing on the case their new disguises were sent in.

Assigned by S.U.I.T (Special Undercover Investigation Teams) to go undercover at Gustavo’s bakery, Gustavo was supposed to be working on a new recipe before he disappeared. It’s possible somebody kidnapped him in order to stop the recipe from going out.
Later, when an explosion goes off at the Science Factory, Mango and Brash are the closest agents to the scene, so they end up working both cases at the same time. Could there be a connection between the explosion and whatever happened to Gustavo?

The title might’ve given it away but Mango and Brash are alligators. There’s also a chicken, Dr. Doodledoo, who works at the Factory and an octopus, Mr. Septapus, who works for A.R.M.S. (Apparel Research and Manufacturing) – they’re the department in charge of providing S.U.I.T. agents with their vests (stylish and practical – that’s the S.U.I.T. way). Most of the characters in this book are human. Green doesn’t provide an explanation for this, nor is it distracting, but it does create a world where there are no rules (and when you meet Dr. Chopper, you’ll understand just how true that is).
At the back of the book, Green includes a few bonus activities, including a how-to draw section that highlights how lean and unfussy his character designs are – if you want to draw Brash instead of Mango all you really have to do is change the shape of his jaw.
Personality wise, Brash can be grouchier than Mango, who’s less serious. Brash is also a lighter shade of green than Mango. Aaron Polk did the colors for this book and while he keeps things fairly realistic (for a book where alligators are special agents), Green leaves most of the backgrounds open. Occasionally he’ll use a panel to establish the setting but often Polk gets to fill in the background with a bright color or gradient. They help Green’s jokes land and also keep up the energy that every good spy story needs.
InvestiGators is divided into thirteen chapters, plus an epilogue, making it easy to break up or read all at once, depending on what your time constraints are. Some puns are corny, but Green’s are just exceedingly clever and a big draw of this story is the wordplay and watching Green top himself. There are also allusions to Law & Order and American Werewolf in London that kids might not get, but adults reading this book with them will.
InvestiGators is available now from First Second. At least two more books are in the works, including InvestiGators: Under the Plunge, which is scheduled for release in October. An early preview of the sequel can be found in First Second’s Free Comic Book Day issue on May 2nd.

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