Okay, you forced me to do this.
Spoilers ahead. Don't come crying to me, beech trees.
I didn't buy it, but I did use my library card to read it. Yep. Too cheap to buy it for a buck.
Lemire spends the first 3 pages carefully showing Antler Boy at the top of a panel, in closeups, and in shadow so as to hide the antlers from the reader until the big reveal on page 4. But there is no suspense to the scene, as both the preview that was available just about everywhere online (and in the Vertigo books prior to this week) and the cover spoil the reveal.
The story is set in a post apocalyptic world. Must everything be set in these worlds? I am so burned out on post apocalyptic tales. (In fact, argument may be made that I am burned out on just about everything; I am old; I am cranky.) In this world, the apocalypse has been brought about by a virus. Antler Boy has mutated from the normal human form, and grown antlers.
Antler Boy (wouldn't it be simpler in the rest of the review if I just typed AB? Or perhaps called him Abbie?) is an inarticulate boy who has been raised in the wilderness by his bereaved father after the apocalypse and his mother's death. His father has inculcated him with fearful religious beliefs that have left him mostly innocent, and definitely susceptible to the evils of the world.
There are people who hunt the abominations that are the mutated creatures. They hunt them as trophies, I guess, and maybe just for sport. I know I would. So as to catch Abbie, the hunters leave candy bars set out as bait. Of course, Abbie takes the bait, much to the horror of his father, who has warned him repeatedly of the evils of mankind.
Eventually, Abbie's father bites the big one. Abbie buries old pappy, and is spotted by evil hunters. A shot rings out, and a deer lies dead. An idiot hunter has slain Bambi, who may or may not be related to Abbie. The hunters then capture Abbie, have their way with him (wait, I made up that part; no bestiality here), and prepare to kill him. Another shot rings out, and one of the hunters lies dead. The killer/avenger-of-Bambi walks into the scene and starts making a speech. End of chapter one.
There are other problems I saw with the issue. in one scene, a candy bar is shown in a snow bank. The print is upside down. 2 panels later, it is upside right. In addition to the lack of suspense about the antlers, there is no suspense to the final scene because the final scene is what has been presented as the preview. After Abbie buries his father, he stands over the grave. In that panel, there are 2 streaks of black ink covering his eyes. I'm guessing they are supposed to indicate that he is looking down and mourning. But the angle of the head looks wrong. Minor thing, but there it is. And in the last scene, after the killer/avenging guy walks into view, he doesn't even bother to train his gun on the other evil hunter. Instead, he stands there and speechifies. The other hunter still has his rifle in his hand. Not very smart of the avenger-of-Bambi.
This is the first I have heard of Lemire, but that means nothing, really. I live in a chrysalis (similar to a cocoon). Once I eclose from the chrysalis and harden my wings, I sometimes discover new things. His art is somewhat typical of independent comics art. It gets the job done. It is not spectacular. It will never be mistaken for standard superhero art. The storytelling is fine enough. It's often hard to know what you will get with a creator who is new to you. Yes, I had quibbles, but I'm taking medication for that.
I don't know how to grade this book. I'm torn between 6 and 7. To me, a 6 means I won't read it again. A 7 means I'll read it again, but it had better improve or I won't buy it. But I didn't buy this issue. I'll probably read issue 2 to see where it is going. I can't give it an 8, even though I'd only take 1 point off for lack of suspense, and 1 point off for the art. An 8 is just too much for this comic at this time. A year from now, if I am still reading this, I might revise my grade. But for now, I'm going with 7 because it is easier to write a 7 than a 6 or 8.
Final Grade: 7.
(You know, I forgot to count the points on Abbie's antlers, so I don't even know if he'd be a good trophy.)
Edited to add: I knew I was forgetting something that I wanted to mention in the review. Near the end of the issue, Abbie (whose real name is Gus, btw) is running from the hunters and trips over a tree branch. Man, what a cliche. Plodding, evil villain chasing swift victim must always have a stroke of luck in catching the victim. Sheesh.
Also, as a sign of how effective this comic was at telling its story -- even after all the things I have mentioned about the story -- I have reviewed it from memory. I only read it once.
Last edited by Old Man
on Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.