Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review - Citizen Jack #1 (@ImageComics)


"Jack Northworthy wasn't always America's problem."

Election cycles seem never-ending, regardless of when the actual election is. Thanks to television, the internet and social media, every statement and action is analyzed, dissected and evaluated beyond necessity. Viewers still turn in for the "news" and that's what Image Comics wants readers to do for Citizen Jack #!. The issue is written by Sam Humphries, illustrated by Tommy Patterson, colored by Jon Alderink and lettered by Rachel Deering.

Every presidential candidate has a skeleton in their closet-Jack Northworthy worships the devil! A scandal-plagued, small town politician, Jack should in no way be president. But he's got a secret weapon: Marlinspike, a malevolent demon of high ambitions. Together, they're running for president in an outrageous campaign that America will never forget!

It's clear from the get-go that Citizen Jack #1 is aiming for satire that does more than just bite. Humphries isn't shy about looking at every aspect of the election cycle and making it fodder for his work, spinning Jack as a man who's fine with making a deal with a demon in order to claim the highest position of power in the world. There's a consistency in Jack that keeps the work on task; from an early scene where he angrily chases off a snow plow driver cutting into his sales of snow blowers to the unique way he announces his candidacy. Humphries uses those situations to characters Jack as a grumpy alcoholic who shouldn't have a shot at winning, yet the deal he makes could change that. Like a lot of other small-town "heroes," Jack's life was on track for one thing until that got derailed, sending him into the downward spiral that propelled him to his current situation. That transition from high to low serves as the perfect juxtaposition for what seems like his inevitable ascent to power.

Effectively capturing Jack's ho-hum roots is Patterson's artwork that relies on a somewhat amorphous drawing style. Characters have definition, but the lines that do that mix between solid and squiggly. Jack is rendered as a completely out-of-shape jerk who isn't shy about letting the world know and the age in his face is readily apparent. There's a full-page spread about halfway through that serves as a hero shot so to speak and Patterson does a fantastic job of illustrating him draped in an American flag for effect. The empty gutters give the panels more of a presence and represent a stripped-down approach that's befitting of Jack as a character.

There's a lot to digest in Citizen Jack #1: small-town righteous indignation, reality show news casts and a main character who isn't shy about letting it all hang out. All of it comes together exceedingly well, with the possibility that some candidates do make Faustian deals to advance their candidacy seeming less far-fetched. Humphries offers a subtle criticism of the entire election process and the 24-hour news cycle, emphasizing the public's obsession with train wrecks. Patterson's artwork is ambiguous at points and doesn't rely on a defined style, but it works for the content of the issue itself. Citizen Jack #1 starts off what appears will be a pretty fun ride, even if it's at the expense of holding up a mirror to society as we know it.

Citizen Jack #1 is in stores now.

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