Politics and demons go together like peanut butter and jelly. They’ve accompanied each other for ages, almost since the first politician asked for a vote. It’s true, isn’t it? Well it wouldn’t surprise me if it was. Citizen Jack #1 from Image Comics, written by Sam Humphries and illustrated by Tommy Patterson, is a new horror-comedy comic that follows the career of a man who makes a deal with a demon to become President of the United States of America. Sounds like this is going to be a hell of a good time. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
GOOD, DEMONIC CHARACTER INTRODUCTION
Hearing Citizen Jack’s premise had me giddy from the get go and I knew this was a comic I would read the first issue of at the very least. Without going into too much detail and keeping it simple: I despise politics. It’s become a circus and I can’t listen to a U.S. politician talk without getting sick to my stomach and visibly angry. “What is wrong with these people?” is the censored version of the question that will often come out of my mouth and if Sam Humphries and Citizen Jack were true to life, things would make a whole lot of sense.
Jack Northworthy is a drunk, down on his luck, snowblower salesman in the small town of Musk, Minnesota who, by the way, wears a fantastic outfit of cowboy hat, unlaced boots and a shaggy pink bathrobe over boxer shorts with a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels always in hand. Always following Jack is his demon “friend” Marlinspike who is promising to make Jack president as long as he does everything Marlinspike says. This issue follows Jack as he fights with the mayor over sending the trucks out to clear the snow, which he believes causes fewer snowblower sales. We learn he used to be the mayor of Musk, like his father before him, until he was impeached and before that, had aspirations to be a hockey player that were crushed when he got injured in college. From there Jack tries his first bid at running for president and things don’t quite go well, but Marlinspike may be working the long game.
Sam Humphries has improved his writing quite a bit since his Fanboys vs. Zombies days (a series I was quite fond of), which is proven in his work at Marvel. What I found here to be better is his ability to write humor, which was something I remember FvZ falling flat at sometimes. Jokes are subdued but still laugh out loud at moments with a bit of bizarre as well. I found the political show Fire Fight showcased the best humor of the issue. For whatever reason one of the hosts is a dolphin named Cricket, dressed in a suit, who can talk. No explanation why, it just is. What makes it even funnier is that Cricket is the only host on the show who speaks of facts, while the other two make quips and showboat. Anytime Cricket speaks up with a truthful statement, he is told to be quiet. Take the dolphin out and it is the whole reason I stopped watching live TV. There are a lot more subtleties in Citizen Jack and while Jack is quite the loser, deadbeat idiot we should hate, there’s some tragedy in the character that makes you feel a bit sorry for him. He peeked in college and is stuck in a rut with nowhere to go and only a demon to turn to. Humphries wisely strays from writing Jack as a straight parallel to any real life politician, though some similarities are there. What I also really like is that even though Jack goes along with Marlinspike, things don’t go smooth immediately. It’s a wise decision on Humphries’s part and keeps the story from moving too fast, as well as giving some realism to Jack’s story. Who knows where things will go from here, but I know I’ll be back for issue two to find out.
PATTERSON AND CO. HAVE MY VOTE
The artwork in Citizen Jack is really quite phenomenal to be honest. Tommy Patterson’s style and work may not be the kind that immediately jumps out and grabs you but as you get into the issue and pay attention, it’s obvious he knows his stuff. I would compare his style to Nick Pitarra’s on Manhattan Projects, but more “normal” looking (if that makes any sense). If you look at the page where Jack dives underwater, with various plant life and rocks formed to resemble devil heads and skulls and you can’t appreciate his talent, I would honestly suggest you do some serious soul searching. The amount of detail that he puts in a page or even a panel is unbelievable and I love the way he adds texture to objects like Jack’s robe. It’s amazing how a technique like inking a line with tiny dots will give a “shag” look to something and Patterson uses it to great effect. Other than a couple of minor instances where faces look uneven when drawn at angles, there are no complaints. Coloring by Jon Alderink can’t be overlooked either as this book really pops and I imagine might have been a bear to color. The psychedelic page where Marlinspike threatens Jack and the floors are bending and the world is coming apart is not only drawn wonderfully, but Alderink uses some brilliant colors that differ from what one would normally expect from a “trippy” sequence. Alderink still knows when to hold back, using dulled tones when needed like the underwater sequence. This is top of the line work and the whole art team has something they should be proud of.
BOTTOM LINE: WAY BETTER THAN ANY POLITICAL DEBATE
Sam Humphries and Tommy Patterson hit more than my funny bone with Citizen Jack #1, they hit the damned nail on the head. A demon helping someone become president sounds far fetched but I already find it believable. This issue is a great introduction to Jack’s character and I’m glad his political career isn’t smooth sailing from the start. I hope to see more jabs taken at politics in future issues as the story is ripe for it. Tommy Patterson’s art is stellar with wonderful coloring from Jon Alderink, making the book even more fun to read. There are so many questions I still have: Where did Marlinspike come from and why is he attached to Jack? How can Jack hurt Marlinspike? Will Jack become a good presidential candidate or stumble his way to the top? All I do know is, I may have found my new favorite comic.
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