Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fell #6

Fell #6, August 2006, Image Comics
writer: Warren Ellis
artist: Ben Templesmith
letterer: Chris Eliopoulos

For those of you following my other blogs, you know that I work for a non-profit after school program, which is a complicated way of saying that I work with kids. This morning, I had a meeting at our local school district office to discuss the implication of Proposition 49, the after school funding initiative that "Ahnold" rode to the California governor's seat a few years back. With an hour or so to spare, I thought I'd grab a coffee and read today's installment, Fell #6.

I've been collecting Fell since its inaugural issue, not because of its "controversial" format, but because I enjoy Warren Ellis's work, and I sought a monthly, detective-driven departure from capes and tights. Ellis delivered, with a Sherlock Holmes meets Law & Order concept that's right up my alley. The stories have been solid, too, with a "ripped from the headlines" sensibility that Ellis exploits in his supplemental essays. Despite their real-life inspiration, the macabre mysteries haven't cut me too deeply. Until today.

Detective Fell and his galpal Mayko stumble into a domestic custody dispute. Although the mother, a recovering crack addict, is initially perceived as "the bad guy," Fell exposes the father as the real source of their daughter's abuse. See, he isn't giving his diabetic daughter the insulin she needs. Instead, he's injecting her . . . with his own feces. To make her "more mine," as he put it. And this is inspired by a true story.

I work with kids, and I've met some weird parents, but as you can imagine, I've never encountered an incident like this. It's beyond words. Yet, Ellis finds a way to adapt the situation into an approachable comic, one that turns the stomach but doesn't completely break the heart. I mean, Fell saves the girl, if she can be saved. I guess that's the point, or the moral, of a strange tale like this. For every poor, demented parent, for every vile person that harms a child, others are out there willing to help. Kids can only fall so far.

So then I went to my meeting about Prop 49. You can imagine what the rest of my day was like.

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