Page 45 Review by Stephen
The 'Super Rich Are Super F***ed' declares the front cover in sneaky spot-varnish, if you tilt it a little in light.
The contents are equally mischievous and uncompromising in the many ways they stick it to the man, to the establishment, to those so imperviously entrenched at the top by their obscene wealth and the ethic-free implementation of that wealth in order to amass even more. You know what I mean: tax evasion condoned and preserved by politicians in their pockets; slave-condition sweatshops; purchased immunity from prosecution; deliberately finite functioning of the latest technology to encourage upgrading as often as possible.
Warren Ellis calls this:
"A sort of hallucinatory rage pop 'PUNISHER from Occupy'. It's gorgeous and also demented."
With which he scores a deliciously succinct bullseye.
However, Kaare's so cleverly crafted set-up comes with its own wider implications for Renato Jones. His targets are the titular One Percent who own half the world's wealth, and he's now ONE of them. So unlike the Punisher who sets his sights on distant targets, these are all connected, up close and personal, and there will be ramifications. Did I say "now one of them"? He hasn't earned the money nor has he inherited it. Well, he has, but perhaps it wasn't his to inherit.
Like VELVET, LAZARUS and THE WICKED + THE DIVINE it's one of those many titles perfect for readers who may want to wean themselves off the more inbred corporate comics, relentlessly eating themselves then regurgitating their same old storylines, increasingly nutrient-free simply to keep filling the shelves for their own One Percent's benefit. Here you'll encounter all the action you crave, but with much more besides, creator-owned, creator-controlled and creator-enraged, so it's all the more blistering. Andrews is utterly enraged and this comic comes infused with a fury both verbal and visual, so you really won't see what's coming next.
"Action! Adventure! Affluenza!" screams one cover.
Then there's the bludgeoning refrain initially after each opening page against stark black and white:
They've run our economy into the ground, destroying jobs and opportunity.
"They've taken homes from families. Turned the middle class into poor and the poor into felons.
"They've stolen, thieved, bribed and killed. But the ONEs have brought their way out of judgement and persecution..."
What a bunch of bankers.
Kaare Andrews has long been one of comics' greatest chameleons with a new style to suit each project. Here he throws a great many of them into the same series and splashed in photographic advertisements for perfume and cologne for good measure. Calvin Klein's "Obsession Pour Homme" has become "Oppression - For Everyone (Renato Jones, justicier de luxe)".
Full-colour flashbacks nonetheless indicate their age by being seemingly sun-bleached, printed in the old Ben-Day dots you may remember from comics of yore, and slightly scarified as if once folded and put in a pocket or the back of the mind, the memories only now unfolding again, triggered by something that is seen, smelled or overheard. Isn't that clever?
You'll find colour, black and white, and black and white with just a hint of cheek-bruised colour suggesting physical abuse. There's plenty of that, and as the cover makes clear this isn't for kids. Ooooh no.
But as well as being filled with invention it is brave to boot. Who would expect three consecutive double-page spreads, none of them used for action? The first two feature full-bleed confrontational close-ups / standoffs of eyes and nose only.
For the main action I perceived elements of Frank Miller circa DK1, especially the teeth, and indeed there's a brief rooftop reference to its most iconic image in silhouette against lightning immediately following what I recognised - rightly or wrongly - as a Kingpin work-out as seen in Miller's first DAREDEVIL run. Mostly, however, Andrews is emphatically his own man and master and his overhead depiction of a cul-de-sac in a suburb is exactly as he describes it thus:
"Neighbourhoods were once designed as grids, a simple landscape of left and right turns to get anywhere you wanted. The equality of choice. But modern suburbs are a maze of dead ends and looping roads. When you're above them, they look like footprints.
"Just another little joke amongst the ONEs."
I promised you anger, didn't I? How about this, over a factory tannoy system in China:
"Welcome to Tech-Chi. We manufacture tomorrow today...
"Workers, be happy to have this job. Remember others are waiting to take your place...
"Bathroom breaks are earned, not taken..."
It's not even hyperbole. When our Dominique sojourned at a certain international delivery firm's call centre, she had to put her hand up if she wanted to go to the loo.
One of my favourite sequences occurs at a political rally with a Presidential candidate - one of the ONE - disingenuously stirring up sympathy for the beleaguered with crocodile tears and a rhetoric you may find familiar. The punchline is a such a sweet play on words:
"Hate, REAL HATE has always made us great...
"I HATE not having jobs for this country.
"I HATE watching the 'everyman' struggle.
"I HATE the terror that threatens our peace.
"I HATE criminals and rapists who threaten our women and children.
"I'm SCARED at what this world is becoming.
"And I HATE not being able to do anything about it.
"I am asking you to join me. To unite in HATE and FEAR. Because if we hate a thing enough, if we truly fear it, we DESTROY IS BEFORE IT DESTROYS US!"
Wait for it...
"Let's MAKE AMERICA HATE AGAIN!"