A review a day: <i>Ripped</i>

So, time travel. Will it make my head hurt?!?!?

Ripped is the second Arcana book in a row I'm reviewing, and it's, unfortunately, far less successful than yesterday's entrant. It's written by Jay Busbee and drawn by Jason Flowers (the co-creators), while Samuel Gomez handles the coloring. It's $14.95, but "different in Canada." That's because up there you pay in loonies!

The story begins with a young man, Adam Fitzpatrick (henceforth known as "Fitz"), waking up on a park bench. A cop gives him the bum's rush, and within a few pages he realizes he's in Dallas on 22 November 1963, about to witness the Kennedy assassination. He freaks out and manages to save Kennedy (although Jackie gets caught in the crossfire), and then some mysterious dude who knows his name pulls a gun on him.

Suddenly we're in Atlanta in the present, and Fitz is chillaxing at the mall with some buds. A bomb goes off, and we're back in 1963 with the mysterious dude. He tells Fitz that he's a "ripper," meaning he can spontaneously travel through time. As they are talking, a woman hits the mysterious dude (his name's Chen) with her car, but she tells Fitz she's a nurse and they can get to a hospital. It turns out the woman hit Chen deliberately and took them to the hospital where Jackie was taken so she could get close to Kennedy, who's in the chapel. She shoots him in the head and disappears. Fitz leaps out the window before the Secret Service can nab him, and he manages to "rip" before he hits the ground - he realizes that he can jump right before he's about to die, which is why he did it in the present when the bomb went off. He ends up in the Trojan horse, and the adventure continues!

Basically, the story becomes a race to stop the young lady, who's named Lena, from changing history completely so that she's able to take over the world. Fitz jumps around a lot, ending up in World War I where he's rescued from death by a young Adolf Hitler, which comes in handy years later when Hitler, now an old man, has been replaced as Führer by Lena herself. Fitz has to grow up a bit, of course - it wouldn't be a heroic quest if the hero didn't start out immature and grow up as he goes through the story - and so he does, after giving up the fight for a while. It's certainly an intriguing concept, but Busbee mostly skims the surface of the story - nobody gets a lot of character development, so something like Fitz deciding to give up the fight doesn't really have a lot of impact, nor does his choice to return feel as triumphant as it should.

Basically, this is a whole bunch of silly scenes set in various times, with no connection whatsoever to actual events - Troy may have been in a war, but to take the Aeneid as history is pushing it, and the fact that Camelot is a rather large medieval castle is laughable. It's mildly entertaining, especially as Busbee makes Hitler interesting by showing some of the darkness in his soul but also giving him some decency. But mostly, it's a fairly dull story that makes little sense.

It's not helped by Flowers's amateurish art, either. He has very little sense of fluidity within panels, his figures are stiff and disproportionately sized with regard to each other and the backgrounds, and everything is done with very minimal attention to detail - the backgrounds are often empty or the buildings are simple structures that look dropped into the frames randomly, while the characters' acting is the best part of the book but still isn't that good. I've looked over at Flowers's blog and he seems to be getting better, so I wonder when this was drawn, but it's very clumsy looking and doesn't help Busbee's plain story in the least.

As I pointed out, Flowers is improving with his art, and I've read a little of Busbee's stuff at his own blog, and it's not terrible. Maybe this is their first attempt at putting a graphic novel together, which is why the execution is lousy. I don't know. I do know that the time travel aspect, which usually bugs me, is the least annoying thing about this comic. There's a lot more out there that's far better than Ripped, and I would avoid this unless you really, really love time travel stories and have to read every single one of them that comes down the pike.

Tomorrow: Witches! Whoo-hoo!

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