Pop Culture Gadabout
Thursday, June 08, 2006
      ( 6/08/2006 12:15:00 PM ) Bill S.  

"THE WORST THING YOU CAN BE IN A HOSPITAL IS 'INTERESTING'" – Mitch is not having a good day. In the midst of an awkward break-up with his girlfriend Izumi, a cadaverous derelict pops up on the street to "tag" him. Next panel, said derelict looks hale and hearty – even if the words he's speaking don't exactly sound sane – and Mitch is passing out amidst a series of mysterious visions. He wakes in a hospital bed, a living dead man. Full walking zombification, we realize, is not far behind.

As he did with 10, scripter Keith Giffen once more presents us with a dark tale of random Really Bad Luck. Story narrator Mitch may be a self-centered jerk (though, perhaps this is mitigated by the fact that we're seeing him on a really crappy day), but does he deserve to be turned into a decaying zombie? Probably about as much as poor Larry Talbot deserved to get bitten by that werewolf, but perhaps Giffen is keeping something from us in the first issue of this Boom! Studios three-part horror series. First good clue as to the forces behind our hero's inconvenient transformation doesn't come until the final page of the first issue (Comics Blogospherians will chuckle), though I suspect Mitch'll discover much more of the Rules of the Game in ish #2.

The focus in the opening issue is as much on Mitch's decaying relationship as it is his body, though it's the latter that provides all the mordant kicks. After he's been tagged, we learn how physically inconvenient it can be as a newly dead guy: "If I forget to shift my weight regularly," Mitch notes at one point, "I lock up." It's the kind of detail you just know the EC boys would've relished – as is a moment when Izumi and Mitch compare and contrast his growing smell with the stench of a dead animal they both once happened upon in the park. Bad taste and horror comics go together – just like crunchy dead frogs and milk chocolate.

Kody Chamberlain's hemmed in art hits the properly trapped tone. There are plenty of Bendis-influenced close-ups, shots of hospital ceilings and apartment corners – all of which are calculated to provide an appropriate sense of desperateness. At times, you can see the artist fumbling his figures (there's a panel late in the first book where you'd swear the heroine's head had suddenly become detached from her neck), but it generally works. Wish he'd given us a bigger close-up of the mysterious web log that we're shown in #1's final full-page panel, though, just so I could see what was on the blogroll . . .
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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