I thought I would change things up a bit and explore a comic I was introduced to thanks to a Groupees sale. (Groupees is similar to Humble Bundle but the offering I was introduced to this comic from were a little on the slim side compared to Humble Bundle. At least the money went to a good cause.) It’s written by Garth Ennis so even if the comic is bad, it’s still going to be better than pretty much any other comic out there today.
The setup is great. The story is told via diary entries from the main character. She starts off talking about stuff you would imagine a housewife talking about in regards to her day dealing with kids, a husband, and running a house. Little by little she tosses in little clues as to where the story is going by mentioning stuff like reading Guns and Ammo magazine while getting her nails done a the salon and mentioning that a .38 or a .45 would be a better gun that would get the job done faster compared to the .09 mm guns the magazines were crowing about.
The main action of the story occurs near the end and it is pure Ennis. Ennis is famous for his work on The Punisher, most famously the story Welcome Back, Frank. If anyone knows how to write action along with compelling characters and story it’s Garth Ennis and here he does not disappoint. Explosions, blood, violence. But he does a great job in terms of building up to it. It isn’t action for the sake of action. When people are just fighting and we don’t know why there’s no tension there. It may look cool but it’s easily forgettable. When you have someone build up a character and their life for you, once you get to the point of caring for them everything they do has you on the edge of your seat.
The buildup, while slow, is also believable. Now how believable can be debated because after all we are talking about an action story. An action story like this does expect you to have some suspension of disbelief in order to fully appreciate what is going on. Without that, would we have three Expendables movies? (Two too many of those but that’s feedback for another blog.) You get that Jennifer really loves her husband and her family. While you don’t know the reason WHY she is doing what she is doing yet, you get the sense that it must be important, otherwise why would a woman who has so much go through such efforts to do something like this.
The art comes across like the old romance comics that were prevalent in the 1950’s when the balls were temporarily removed from the comic industry. The diary you see on the first page is frilly. The pictures are all bright and optimistic. I love thought that the further we get into the story the colors get darker, reflecting the fact that the story is taking a dark turn. It’s the kind of subliminal thing you need to mentally prepare you for the action you experience.
And the violence. The violence is great! Bodies flying everywhere. Lots of blood. It’s what you expect from modern action stories and it’s great.
As I mentioned the story starts off slow. Real slow. There is a point to it of course. Garth is preparing the stage for when Jennifer finally dons her costume and takes out the criminals that are stealing cars from a ship yard and selling them for profit. It just took a real LONG time to get there and it almost lost my interest. I got it back quickly and thanks to the revelation that one of the men she killed was an Uncle of her’s, I want to know more about why she’s going on a bloody, Punisher like rampage. I just wish there could have been a way to transition her from typical housewife to kick ass assassin a little faster.
The art work near the end did get a little sloppy. The last couple pages of the story involved her cleaning up after her little adventure and while in bed with her husband being coaxed into a quick love making session. Everything at this point felt a little rushed and the characters came off as ugly. Maybe I will change my mind on this the further I read into the story. Maybe we WANT to see that she ultimately views the suburbanite lifestyle as drab and ugly at which point I will revise my opinion. As it stands it was presented that she loves her family and the life they have so to have the story visually end on an ugly note was a bit jarring. And to have one of the last frames end up being her husband look like he’s going to pop an eye out as he finishes his duty was just silly. Who needs to see that? Show more Jennifer!!!
This is a good start. I hope to see things pick up the further I get into this series and I don’t doubt that it will. What holds back this particular issue from being amazing is the pace. It is slow. You will feel yourself age as you read the first dozen or so pages. Granted, your patience WILL pay off so don’t take this as too much of a complaint. The problem is though that others may not like the pacing and decide to put the book down before they get to the good part. For that I have to give the story a 5.
The art starts off good. It fits the image that you expect from the syrupy writing you’re reading by being romantic and bright. The further it gets along, the closer it gets to the violent action scenes you’re waiting to see, the darker the piece gets which is great. Again though, the only thing that throws me off are the last few pages which are depicted ugly. There may be a point to that which I will understand later on but for now, being that this is the first issue I have read I have to give it a 5 as well.
I have been harsh with this issue but I have to be clear. I highly recommend it. While flawed, it does grab you by the throat at the end and make you dive for the next issue, if only to see the amazing covers!