If one were so inclined to look back at the past installments of YOU’RE SO WEIRD, MULTIVERSE! and the types of books I’ve reviewed in the column, an individual may come to the conclusion that I am really into fantasy and sci-fi when it comes to my comic reading. In a general way, that individual would be correct. But in another, more accurate way, don’t pigeon-hole me, JERKS! … I’m sorry for yelling.
While it’s true that I’m a big fan of science-fiction, fantasy, and other popular genres associated with the four-colour funny books we all know and love, there are very few things on this big blue marble that can make me as happy as a well-crafted, hard-boiled, balls-out, motherfucking crime story. As luck would have it, that’s exactly came across my desk this week.
The Brothers James #1
WRITER – Ryan Ferrier
ARTIST – Michael Walsh
In 1982 two brothers were orphaned when a motorcycle gang brutally murdered their parents. Now grown men, Jack and John James track and kill the bastards that destroyed their lives one by one, bullet by bullet. This is the story of their vengeance.
The Brothers James is a comic that wastes absolutely no time letting us know exactly what it is we hold in our hot little hands. With the first page we’re introduced to a dirty little shit-hole of a diner by a narrator that feels like if Waylon Jennings had said “fuck it” to Hazzard County in search of a more blood-soaked adventure. Ryan Ferrier’s choice to include the narration perfectly sets the tone of the story about to unfold before us. It’s harsh, it’s dark, but there’s also an undercurrent of dark humour that lends the work a great deal of charm missing from other contemporary titles dealing in similar subjects.
It’s important to note that there are no narrative gymnastics here, as the plot is more or less straightforward, so it falls to the narration and character dialogue to really hook the reader on the written word aspect of this comic book equation. Luckily, Ferrier is more than up to that task. Sure, there are moments when a character or two spout some lines that are somewhat old hat, but when taken as a complete work, every single character in this comic feels real and as such even the cliched stuff works. There’s a rawness and honesty at work in the writing that makes it feel like the grime present in every panel threatens to seep it’s way off the page. That’s a rare gift for a writer to have in any medium, and even more so within comics.
When it comes to art Ferrier would have a hard time finding a better collaborator than Michael Walsh. His clean lines and chunky inks are the perfect method of expression for this dirty, morally ambiguous tale of revenge. I often talk about the importance of panel to panel storytelling in this column and how a great many modern comic artists lack that skill, especially in independent comics. Well, that’s not a problem for Walsh. The man is equally comfortable with quieter, facial acting moments as he is when the shit hits the fan and the bullets and blood start to fly. And while Jack and John bear more than a passing resemblance to a certain pair of monster hunting tv brothers (especially once they jump in their vintage set of wheels) I’m gonna give Mr. Walsh a pass because everything else is just so over-the-top excellent. Camera angles, framing, panel layout… Seriously, name whatever you want, ’cause it’s all gold.
Stripped down to its bare essence this book can be summed up thusly: The Brothers James is a blood-drenched road trip to hell. Two brothers and a muscle car full of guns killing a whole mess of people that society should’ve taken care of a long time ago. It’s purpose? To dole out hot justice from the barrel of a .45 and entertain the hell out of anyone who gives it a read. It succeeds in every way that matters.
It should be more than obvious by now, but I’m all in on The Brothers James and can’t wait to see where the Ferrier and Walsh take us next. Take the ride with me, friends.
A shining example of southern fried revenge that’s not to be missed?
You’re so WEIRD, Multiverse!
…and that’s why I love you.
And remember, if you’re gonna GEEK OUT, GEEK HARD!
To See Kris’s comic work, visit www.bizarrecomicsonline.com
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