Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Savage Brothers #1

The Savage Brothers #1, Boom! Studios
writers: Andrew Cosby & Johanna Stokes
artist: Rafael Albuquerque
colorist: Cris Peter
letterer: Ed Dukeshire

What would you do if the apocalypse began tomorrow? If the sky rained frogs, and your neighbors became flesh-eating zombies, would you still wake up and go to work? Would you continue to pay your credit card bills on time? Would you still give a hoot about Britney’s child custody case?

Obviously, the apocalypse isn’t the end of the world; it’s just the means to that end. Sure, you’re neighbors are zombies, but what if your boss isn’t? I mean, yes, living during the apocalypse would certainly suck, but getting fired during the apocalypse? I don’t know, but when you put it like that, my pride tells me to clock in even if the world is clocking out. A guy still has to make a living, right?

The Savage Brothers feel the same way. In Cosby and Stokes’ apocalyptic series, Dale and Otis Savage are fraudulent bounty hunters, killing random zombies and convincing their clients that their targets’ appearances simply change when they’re undead. In the opening act, when an old lady hires them to kill her undead husband so he will definitely greet her at the pearly gates, she muses at the picture proof, “I don’t remember Cletus bein’ so blond.” Dale replies craftily, “That’s no doubt from him spending so much of his undead life out in sun.” This sleazy ingenuity is an excellent way to establish the characters, as if the tagline on the top of the cover wasn’t enough: “2 dreadneck boys making a living during the apocalypse . . .” Hence, my initial inquiries, eh?

This first issue takes a turn toward its propelling plot when the Savage Brothers are hired by a shadowy, well-dressed fellow to find and kill one Dr. Diller in Atlanta. Though the boys reveal some fear about traversing to the city, the job’s down payment is all the encouragement they need, and soon enough they find the good doctor. Alas, they weren’t the only ones looking for him, and when a group of more well-dressed shadow agents shoot their tires out, a detour puts them in the middle of some sort of cult-like virgin sacrifice. I guess you never can tell what will be around the next corner in the apocalypse.

Despite its darkly prophetic context, The Savage Brothers #1 is a rollickingly fun issue, using the archetypical backdrop of the end of the world to feature two unlikely heroes -- a couple of quick-witted rednecks. With the possible exception of Guy Gardner, Dale and Otis Savage are the only likable rednecks I’ve encountered in comics (and I include Guy only in the charm of his unlikability), particularly because they’re using the end of the world to their advantage. Cosby and Stokes put an interest twist on all of these usually preconceived concepts, and with the makings of a government or corporate conspiracy in the works, I’m sure the Savage Brothers are going to find themselves over their heads, which is probably where they thrive, anyway. Considering the itchiness of their trigger fingers . . .

The Savage Brothers is also A Comic A Day’s second encounter with artist Rafael Albuquerque in just a month, which was completely unplanned by just as enjoyable. Spellgame was more dense in its application of an urban environment, and Savage seems more inclined toward a Mad Max-like perpetual desert, so Albuquerque’s background work is a little vague and undeveloped here, but his depiction of Otis and Dale is just as palpable as the writers’ dialogue. His style is definitely all his own, and perfectly compliments the cutting edge ideas the two books I’ve read from him have to offer.

So, back to my original inquiry -- What would you do if the apocalypse began tomorrow? I think I’d take a page out of the Savage Brothers’ playbook, and simply continue to do what I do best. Sure, the circumstances would be different, but, hey, the customer is still always right, even if they’re undead.

Technical note: I always derive an issue’s publication information (exact title, publication date, company) from the fine print often found on the bottom of the inside front cover or first page. In this case, though the cover clearly boasted a number one, the pub info listed the issue as #2. This issue clearly contains all of the characteristics of a first issue, so I wasn’t too concerned with pursuing its review, but this kind of oversight is an interesting note in the production of a comic, I reckon. Who edits the editors . . .?

No comments: