For those of you who don't know what a moped is, check out the Moped Army <a href = "http://www.mopedarmy.com/">website</a>. Basically, a moped is a reinforced bicycle with a 50cc engine that cruises you around at a top speed of about 30 miles per hour, and it has pedals in case the engine stops. If you don't know the difference between a moped and a scooter, it's really easy. Mopeds are bad-ass bicycles while scooters are motorcycles for pussies.
At Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo in 1997, three students got together and formed an organization. Part biker gang and part fan club, they named themselves The Decepticons after the Transformers toys, and the Moped Army was born. Simon King, Daniel Robert Kastner, and Brennan Sang, the originators of the Moped Army, have seen their brainchild blossom into a national moped club, with chapters from Arizona to Washington State. But this is merely back story.
In 2003, comics creator and fellow WMU student Paul Sizer started working on his newest project. Sizer tabled his ongoing series Little White Mouse, in favor of the less demanding schedule of a graphic novel, and thus was born the subject of this review.
Paul Sizer takes well to the graphic novel format. Moped Army is a graphic gem that is impossible to put down once it's started. Sizer is that rare talent of a storyteller that can take the most innocuous of ideas and make them sing with magic, wit, and power. In this instance the plot hook is a spoiled little rich girl who has a crisis of conscience and falls in with the right crowd. Deeper beneath the surface of this slightly cliched plot hook, lies a study in class warfare and a revelatory tale about what happens when those societal lines are crossed.
The story is laid out for us by Simone. She's part of the upscale rich who have built their lives, literally, on the wreckage that they've left behind for everybody else. Through Simone, Sizer gives us a guided tour of their spangled misery, as we learn that being uber-rich doesn't really save us from our all too human emotions. Simone's life changes when an evening joyride with her asshole boyfriend and his gang, crashes head-on into The Moped Army. Tragedy ensues, and later Simone starts to alienate herself from her shallow, vapid "friends" as she tries to find some sort of redemption by "slumming it" with the people that live below her city in the sky. Eventually she finds acceptance and possibly even friendship as she's adopted by the very same people that she'd earlier stood by and watched as they were terrorized.