TOP

Review time! with Whore

by  in Comic News Comment
Review time! with <i>Whore</i>

I wonder if that title is supposed to be provocative!


Long-time readers of the blog might recall that Gianluca Glazer, who used to work for Radical before striking out on his own, sends me quite a number of comics. I like very few of them (and those few are usually pretty entertaining, to be fair), but I do appreciate that he keeps sending them to me!


So he sent me Whore, which is a graphic novel by Jeffrey Kaufman (writer and founder of Big City Comics, his imprint), Marco Turini (artist), James Brown (colorist, and John Hunt (letterer). It’s published by Zenescope, costs $9.99, and will be out in stores on 5 September.

I tend to avoid comics from Zenescope, because they don’t publish anything I want to read (the only thing they’ve ever published that I read was cancelled before it could even get halfway through a twelve-issue run, and it was wildly out-of-step with everything else they’ve published), and so I had very little interest in Whore. The main idea is halfway decent – a CIA assassin is downsized out of his job and he needs to take freelance work to keep up his lifestyle and because it’s the only thing he’s good at – but even that feels familiar. I don’t have a problem with familiar ideas, because most plots have been used before, and it’s all the execution. Unfortunately, Whore just isn’t very good at all.

Jacob Mars is the protagonist, and he’s about as unlikable as you might expect a CIA assassin to be. That’s not a problem if he’s interesting in other ways, but he’s not – he’s just a douchebag who thinks of only two things: sex and getting enough money to keep his fancy lifestyle, presumably so he can get laid. He’s not charismatic, he’s not deep, and he’s not charming. He is an utterly horrible person, from the first page, on which he’s banging some random chick (if you read this, you need to get used to that) and insulting someone on the phone because his monthly salary wasn’t deposited (his first line of dialogue in the book is “Listen you soul-sucking bitch”) to the last one, on which he accepts his “whore-ness” and embraces more killing.


He has a barely-there character arc, in which he considers for about a second if the life he’s living is worth it, but it hardly registers and, as he knows, he can’t do anything else. Basically, this comic exists so that we can watch Jacob have sex with a succession of women and kill people. And be a dick about it throughout. Some of the vignettes (he takes several jobs during the comic) don’t even make sense. He plays basketball against President Obama for no good reason – it seems like the scene is just there so that Kaufman can have Jacob ask Obama why he didn’t bring the troops home right after he got elected, but as we have no idea why Jacob asks that question (as we know very little about his past) and it has no emotional resonance whatsoever. He’s hired by a Saudi prince to knock up the prince’s daughter so that the prince can raise the child as his own and train it to kill Jacob – Jacob apparently messed with him some time earlier and the prince wants revenge. The daughter becomes his regular fuck-buddy, but she’s not even a real character, so their odd relationship has no impact. He’s hired to protect a prize dog in a dog show, but for some reason he decides to sabotage the competition instead of just protecting the dog. The missions he goes on are choppy and disjointed, with strange gaps in the scenes that make no sense. Not only is Jacob a terrible character (“terrible” not in that he’s a douchebag, but that he’s not developed in any way), but every other character is one too. The dialogue is bad as well – far too much of it is double entendres because of Jacob’s utter obsession with sex, and it has no real flow because it sounds very stilted and choppy, as if Kaufman cut out half of it. The characters talk to each other, but they don’t seem to be interacting as human beings – it’s just dick jokes and sex jokes and violence jokes and exposition.

Turini’s art isn’t any better, unfortunately. It’s heavily reliant on photo references, which isn’t necessarily bad, but when the drawings are simply pasted onto a page with no relation to the background or the other characters, that’s a problem. Characters don’t interact with each other visually any more than they do through dialogue. There’s a minor emotional moment for Jacob at the end of the book where he’s supposed to be shocked and angered, and not only does he not look shocked or angered, he’s not even looking at the person with whom he’s supposed to be angry. A lot of the book is like that – characters don’t seem to inhabit the same space in the panels even though there are a lot of close-ups of faces right next to each other.


Characters appear in panels from nowhere and for no reason (three hookers show up in one panel, and I can’t for the life of me figure out where they came from or why they’re there), and the storytelling is terrible, perhaps because the script is so choppy. Turini appears to use the same models for some of the different female characters and only varies their hair color, but I guess we can at least tell them apart. The action scenes are pretty bad, too – they don’t flow at all, and the fact that he draws the characters so big means that there’s no sense of perspective at all. As usual with Zenescope books, they want to be sexy but don’t really want to push the envelope, so a comic called Whore doesn’t even have the stones to show any nudity – female or male. There’s an obsession with sex in the book, but of course we can’t actually see anything – the women have nice long hair that falls conveniently over their breasts, and Jacob always seems to be behind a plant or something. It’s an adolescent and puerile attitude – “Let’s call this book Whore, but let’s not push the envelope in any way! Hee-hee-hee!”

I’m sure that all involved in this are swell people (I know Glazer is, because I’ve met him briefly), and I hate it when I get to read a comic for free and I don’t like it at all, but I didn’t like Whore at all. If it had a point, maybe it would be worthwhile, or if the creators were more skilled but didn’t have a point, maybe it would be worthwhile. There’s just sex and violence for reason, and it’s just dull. Obviously, you don’t have to trust me – at the Facebook page I linked to above, there are links to other reviews of the book. Feel free to check them out before 5 September and make up your own mind!