If potential voters think the current crop of presidential candidates are a bunch of losers, then they haven’t read the story of Jack Northworthy, presidential wannabe, all-around loser and star of Sam Humphries and Tommy Patterson’s “Citizen Jack” #1. Jack is also an estranged husband, impeached mayor and struggling snowblower salesman who has partnered up with a demonic being of some sort, who seems to want nothing more than to turn Jack into a political star and leader of the free world. Seemingly digging a deeper hole for himself every time he seeks a way to climb out of it, Jack’s every move only makes him more laughably pitiful, to the point where some hellish paranormal support is welcomed.
Both Humphries and Patterson seem to go out of their way to make Jack a truly despicable and unlikeable character, almost like a blockhead Charlie Brown for mature readers. Jack’s a heavy drinker, threatens his townspeople and even his own father with a gun and is a general pain in the behind to just about everyone he talks to. Patterson renders Jack as ugly, out-of-shape and gallivanting about town in a distasteful pink bathrobe and boxers. Like good ol’ Charlie Brown, though, everyone’s seeming dislike for him gives him a kind of endearing, sympathetic quality; after all, if readers don’t show support for such a loser, who will? That is, besides a demon named Marlinspike.
Patterson leaves no doubt as to how dislikable a character Jack can be and sells this portrayal on the very first page. In an effectively ugly splash that’s beautiful in its execution, Patterson captures Jack in all of his despicable glory, riding one of his snowblowers with a bottle of whiskey in one hand while pointing a gun in the other. Colorist John Alderink enhances the effectiveness of the page by contrasting Jack’s pretty pink bathrobe against the green of his snowblowing machine as well as the darkness of the nighttime sky. The glistening of the snow in the foreground, as well as the off-panel glare bordering the right hand side of the page, are a few other nice touches.
Patterson’s lines are fine and detailed, and he uses that detail to capture not only the ugliness of Jack and his situation but also the total opposite context, making Jack appear suave and almost handsome when he tries to sell himself as a viable presidential candidate. It also works well when combined with Alderlink’s colors in a later one-page, mind trip-like sequence, as well as one stunningly beautiful underwater scene.
Humphries gives one other small reason to pull for Jack, portraying him as a one-time successful athlete with no other aspirations, who then suffered a career-ending injury. His tense relationships with his soon-to-be-ex-wife Lois and contemptuous father evoke some sympathy; his father is arguably an even bigger jerk, and Lois has not only left him but taken his former position as mayor. Even the shadowy Marlinspike treats Jack with contempt, coming across as like a protective big brother who nonetheless slams him every time no one is looking.
“Citizen Jack” #1 is a successful start to a story that makes readers pull for an utterly contemptable character, all while establishing a compelling story about a nobody making a bid for president.