Into the back issue box #46

The insidious influence of BMB is evident in this book!

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Case Files: Sam & Twitch #23 ("Fathers and Daughters Part 4 of 6") by Marc Andreyko (writer), Greg Scott (artist), Jay Fotos (shader), and Jimmy Betancourt (letterer). Published by Image, March 2006.

By 2006, the Decompression Era of Comics had blown its wad, so to speak, and many writers had moved on. Decompression is still with us and will probably never go away, but it's nice that writers have tried to get over the idea that every single story needs to fit into six issues. Marc Andreyko, however, didn't get the memo. This issue is ridiculously decompressed, to the point that a new reader might not even come back to the book. I can imagine this working rather well as a trade paperback, but as with everything in the Decompressed Era, reading it month-by-month had to be a grind.

The story is easy enough to figure out if this is the first comic you've ever bought. A woman is interviewing a murder suspect who provides some of the backstory. The story cuts back and forth between this and the two main characters and a SWAT team breaking into the suspect's house, which appears to take place at the same time. With this set-up, we get that a young star has been murdered and the suspect worshipped her and "needed" to kill her before she became "impure." He felt that she was being corrupted by the world. Detective Burke and Williams (the Sam and Twitch of the title) discover his secret shrine to the victim while the woman (she's a psychiatrist, we learn a few pages in) interviews the suspect. Finally, she asked how he killed her, and that's when we learn that he was making it all up. They didn't release cause of death so they could weed out the crazies like Sylvester, which puts the cops back at square one.

We get a few pages of crowds protesting at the house of the suspect and outside police HQ because they worship the star - Lacey - so much. Then a young man shows up and says he's the son of "Hanson Lyons" - the father of the murdered girl. When the cops interview him, Mitchell - the son - tells them that Hanson had a completely different family, and before he left to take up with "Jennifer" - presumably Lacey's mom - he killed Mitchell's sister, Hanson's first daughter. On that dramatic note, the issue ends.

So. Yeah. We get 12 pages of Sylvester getting interviewed and the cops finding his shrine, and he's not even the killer. One would think someone would have asked him immediately how he killed Lacey, as he's not exactly shy about claiming he did it. That would have, you know, cut the need to fill 12 pages with a red herring. There are three pages establishing that people worship Lacey more than God, which is fine, but nothing terribly insightful, and then five pages of Mitchell explaining that his father's the murderer. Ultimately, there's about three pages of real meaty information in this comic. The rest is filler. More than that, it's obvious and not particularly exciting filler. Some writers can pad their comics skillfully, but even a novice comic reader would wonder why nothing's happening in this issue. It's a bit vexing.

Whenever I come upon something that is obviously written for the trade, as this issue is, I wonder if the writer pitched it that way. Did Andreyko pitch this and have the Toddster say "We need it go six issues, man," or did Andreyko simply plan it that way? Unfortunately, "writing for the trade" is new-reader-unfriendly, as new readers want, I would guess, something to happen in the first comic they read. It's not even that this is a particularly packed issue in terms of dialogue where a lot of information is conveyed. So much of this could be cut it seems pointless to even publish this as a separate issue. For all I know, the total arc could be brilliant. But I do know that it could have been done in one fewer issue. A new comic reader might be intrigued enough to come back, as there's nothing really wrong with the book, but they might be gun-shy about committing three dollars to another chapter of a story in which nothing happens.

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