In The Scumbag #1, we’re introduced to Ernie Clementine, quite simply the most disgusting man alive. But when Ernie injects himself with stolen nanotech, he becomes Earth’s one hope to avert Armageddon. We’re doomed! Read all about it in your latest might Major Spoilers review!
THE SCUMBAG #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Louis Larosa
Colorist: Moreno Dinisio
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Will Dennis
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: October 21st,, 2020
Previously in The Scumbag: Ernie is a degenerate bum, a filthy drug addict who spends his days in an endless search for his next fix. He has a well earned reputation as a petty thief, knows all the hookers, and can be trusted about as far as you could throw him, were you crazy enough to want to touch him. In short, he’s the worst man alive. Meanwhile, super agents known as Father Time and Scorpionus are in a race themselves to obtain the Formula Maxima and save/destroy the planet. The world is toast, people.
HE IS NOT WORTHY
For me, THE SCUMBAG #1 is an opening issue which is very, very hard to like. Don’t get me wrong, the writing captures the depravity of the lead character, Ernie Clementine, while the artwork and coloring capture something of the psychedelic depravity that Ernie inhabits. It’s laugh out loud funny at times, and it certainly takes a different approach to the superhero genre, in fact, it actively subverts it, which should be applauded.
And yet…I felt dirty after reading it. Which I imagine, in part, was writer Rick Remender’s intentions. The genre is full of shiny, spandex wearing, clean cut all American superheroes who literally bleed altruism (assuming they can be cut). Truth, Justice and the American Way may be in the gutter at the moment, but the intent behind a lot of the genre is to celebrate self sacrifice and helping those who can’t help themselves (in between creation level reboots that make my eyes bleed thinking about), demonstrating that the good guys can win (mostly).
THE SCUMBAG #1 doesn’t go for any of that. Ernie is a truly disgusting creature, seemingly a hold over from the sex, drugs, rock and roll eras of the past. He’s what Tony Soprano would call a degenerate drug addict, someone who steals donations to the Christmas fund to pay for his next score, while abusing prostitutes and glad handing with drug dealers. He’s a scuzzy, poorly dressed, toked out of his head drug fiend, the sort of person you would cross to a different suburb to avoid if you approached him in the street. He is, in short, a total scumbag.
Is this something good that we should be celebrating? I mean, after all, THE SCUMBAG #1 is just a piece of entertainment, and it is, broadly, entertaining. But there’s enough ugliness in the world that one more example seems like adding to the pile, to diminishing it. I mean, I can laugh at the image of a heroin addict defecating himself in front of children while he prepares to shoot up, but do I really need to have it in my life?
SCUMBAGS ARE US
Personal preferences aside, THE SCUMBAG #1 is an entertaining read, and, as I said before, delightfully subverts the genre. After scoring his next hit, Ernie retires to a back alley to enjoy the (extremely brief) delights of his next needle load of heroin. In doing so, he stumbles across a fight between two seeming super heroes – the tuxedo clad Father Time, and the scantily clad (to Ernie’s unsurprising delight) Scorpionus. Trading insults as quickly as the trade punches and kicks, this duo are fighting over a hypodermic, which we later discover contains nanotechnology dubbed the Formula Maxima. Of course, as we can see (basically from orbit it is so obvious), an accident means that Ernie injects himself with the nanotech, while Father Time unloads a needle full of heroin into his heart.
What this all means, as we discover in the ending to THE SCUMBAG #1, is that Ernie is humanity’s last, best hope to avert the destruction of New York. After some tough negotiations, Ernie agrees, leaving the reader with the prospect of future issues where Earth finds its hands in the slightly dubious shape of a super powered scumbag.
BOTTOM LINE: I COULDN’T LOOK AWAY
Personal preference aside, this is a very confident, very polished opening issue. You may not like the idea of this total degenerate being the hero of the book, but it is an amusing concept that if handled correctly, has a lot of mileage in it. You may, like me, not like Ernie. But you won’t be able to look away from what Remender and artist Lois Larosa have created.
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The Scumbag #1
The Scumbag #1 handily subverts the comic book genre, while providing plenty of laughs and entertaining visuals in the process. Ernie is an instantly compelling character, even if he’s the sort of human stain you’d happily flush down the toilet. God may work in mysterious ways, but there’s absolutely nothing mysterious about Ernie, as the Earth is going to find out in future issues...