In which we didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the world's been turning.
All this time I have been hiding amongst you, but at last I have been activated by my Communist masters to... write this review.
Pigs #1, out next week from Image Comics, serves as the splashy bottle-to-the-skull "debut" from former Marvel editor Nate Cosby, now fighting in the trenches as a comics writer alongside Corporal Ben McCool, a guy who clearly had Warren Ellis as his drill sergeant, and also possibly as his wet nurse. Together they're writing a comic that's like Burn Notice, but from the bad guys' point of view, and airing on a premium channel like Starz right after that Spartacus show, and also on paper, with drawings made in ink and then colored on a computer and printed out, with staples.
Serving as the spine of this debut issue is an interrogation scene between a couple of surly cops, one of whom is the "good cop," or "Murtaugh," and the other of whom is the "loose cannon cop," or "Riggs." The person being interrogated is a mean old bitch with balls of steel, who dances her way around their questions and gets all the best lines. The cops, or Feds, or whoever they are try to dig their way through an old conspiracy, a KGB sleeper cell that's been hanging around Cuba since the Bay of Pigs invasion. Meanwhile, an old man dies in Havana and a young team of badasses is called into some type of action. Then we get the twisty cliffhanger, which, is, yeah, definitely a ballsy turn to the plot, a move the writers of 24 wouldn't have the guts to go with.
In your standard fare, the Feds here would be our point of view characters, but instead we don't really get a point of view. The old lady holds all the cards, the cops are trying to parse their way through it, mysterious goings on are going on mysteriously with the young crew of terrorist spies, and the audience is caught amongst all of these, feeling our way through it. That's fine with me-- I don't like excessive audience hand-holding, my palms are sweaty enough, thanks-- but I don't entirely get a feel for the setting, the characters (besides our steely old lady), the plot, or anything much aside from the tone, which can best be described as "bastardly."
Breno Tamura draws the book in that rough-hewn R.M. Guera sort of style, with solid storytelling and heavy inks. Christopher Sotomayor colors in the Vertigo manner, a lot of earth tones and subdued colors, with that sickly green coming out in the interrogation scene, like fluorescent lighting in a room the janitors don't visit often. Tamura distinguishes the characters well, at least for the motley crew of young terror spies, but it took me a couple read-throughs to realize the two mean old ladies aren't the same mean old lady. Unless they are. I'm still not sure, and I wasn't entirely certain whether or not the four young characters were all related, though it's pretty clear now they aren't, except by the violent, unspoken bond that brings them together.
Once the plot starts filling in and the characters get more definition, I'm pretty sure this will be another comic series that fights dirty and loves dirtier, but for now I'm not entirely sold. As the series digs in further, however, it may yet produce a truffle.
Pigs #1 comes out next Wednesday, the 14th, at every comic shop worth a damn.