Review - On the Stump #1 (@imagecomics)

"It's allll over folks!"

There are those who feel America's take on democracy is under attack from both inside and outside forces. Whether or not that's true remains to be seen, but in On the Stump #1 from Image Comics that concept is reimagined. The issue is written by Chuck Brown, illustrated by Prenzy and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

The campaign trail is paved with blood and broken bones. History diverged in 1868 when a pivotal presidential debate turned violent. Today, elections are decided by highly publicized hand-to-hand combat in arenas called Stumps. Unfortunately, the violence doesn't end in the ring, and powerful people can still get away with murder. Senator Jack Hammer and FBI Agent Anna Bell Lister are teaming up to bring it all down.

What works so well with Brown's approach is that he's bringing action to the words that are thrown at one another when it comes to politics. Brown's (and everyone's really) take that the political climate nowadays is extraordinarily bitter and ill-willed allows the issue to be infused with the right amount of anger to be played out in the ring. And the concept of literally fighting for legislation is astounding--Brown holds nothing back in following along with some of the more renowned members of Congress as fighters in the ring. The dialogue is relatively terse throughout the issue, although that doesn't prevent Brown from leveraging it to great effect in getting his point across.

Prenzy's artistic approach is very gritty and harsh, both of which are appropriate considering the violence throughout the issue. And speaking of violence, Prenzy showcases all the characters in various states of fighting duress, refusing to play it safe as far as what's shown on the page. All of the characters have an oversized stature to them that makes them believable as fighters--a sharp contrast to the mostly weak and feeble members of Congress presently. The panels are arranged quite frenetically, assisting the issue's overall pacing and presentation in a way that makes it feel energetic. The colors are sienna-tinged and accelerate the somewhat dystopian feel of the setting.

It's no surprise that the campaign trail at this point is pretty acrimonious and On the Stump #1 elevates it to another level entirely. The intrigue surrounding the plot is fascinating against the backdrop of members of Congress fighting one another for passing legislation. Brown has crafted a devilishly simple take on bringing physicality to the online mudslinging and still managed to weave in scandal. Prenzy doesn't shy away from ensuring that the reader feels every punch thrown in all its legislative glory. On the Stump #1 is emphatic in its embrace of embodying violence found in words when it comes to elections and legislation.

On the Stump #1 is available now.