More comics I got in Seattle, directly from the source! In this case, the writer himself!
Cura Te Ipsum is a webcomic written by Neal Bailey (another damned Portland comic creator – I get madder every day that I moved away from there!) and drawn by Dexter Wee (it’s true – it’s right here!) and which has two printed volumes out so far (Bailey plans for nine volumes all in all). The title is Latin and means “Heal yourself” (usually preceded by “Physician,” but that’s not in the Latin) and which comes from the Bible because everything is from the Bible or Shakespeare, right?
Obviously, with only 22% of the story in my hands (see what I did there – math!), it’s hard to review this completely, but I can tell you what the hell’s going on, and you can decide if it’s worth your time to read it on-line or even (gasp!) buy a print version.
Bailey introduces us to Charlie Everett, a 30-year-old guidance counselor who has a particularly bad day, culminating with his position being eliminated. This drives him to suicide, but before he can pull the trigger on his fancy revolver, he’s stopped by another version of himself. Apparently there’s an infinite number of dimensions, and in all of them, Charlie Everett is suicidal, but some of the Charlies have decided to stop the others from killing themselves. They zip around dimensions thanks to a magic stone that allows them to create doors in the universe, rescuing any Charlies they can. Why? Well, beside the fact that they’re all the same person and who wants to see themselves get killed, really, there’s no reason. Not yet, anyway. And of course there’s an evil Charlie, whose mission in life is to kill all the others before killing himself. Again, we’re not sure why any of this is important, but it’s so important to the evil Charlie (Dark Everett, as they call him) that he’s willing to manipulate the countries on one world into launching nuclear weapons at each other so that he can slaughter a bunch of Charlies who have taken refuge there. A small group of Charlies, including “our” Charlie – they call him Prime – is trying to stop Dark Everett, but they don’t seem to have much of a plan, at least not in these volumes.
So that’s the basic premise. I’m not going to get into the dimensional stuff too much, but the universe that Dark Everett destroys is the “anchor” because everyone can get the stones to open a portal there. Any other portal opens to a random universe, except Dark Everett somehow knows how to get to specific ones, and Charlie Prime soon learns that he can, too, which makes the group distrust him.
Bailey does some clever things – one of the group is Charlene, while another is a younger version of Charlie (the portals open to different times in the universes, so the Charlies can rescue younger versions of themselves), and still another is a science geek. The differences between the Charlies are caused by small changes in the way their universes worked – Charlie Prime had a bad experience with the chemistry set he got as a kid, so he didn’t become the science geek that Nerd Charlie did. Bailey manages to keep all the characters interesting even though they’re the same person. They all have experiences in common, but how they dealt with them changes who they are. Charlie Prime also has to figure out how he can control the stones and what that means, and they also have to find out what Dark Everett is doing – he has chances to kill them, but he doesn’t take them, so perhaps his stated mission of killing all of them isn’t the only thing he’s planning. Who knows?
The book moves along at a breakneck pace, but Bailey does do some nice things with the characters. Obviously, as they’re all the same person, he needs to figure out how to give them some uniqueness. Charlene is tougher than the others because their dad wanted a boy and he pushed her harder. Billie, another Charlie they meet in volume 2, has cancer and won’t live very long, but jumps at the chance to come with them. Charlie Prime visits his parents and has it out with his father, who’s a worthless bastard. Having a horrible father doesn’t make everyone suicidal, but Bailey does a nice job showing aspects of Charlie’s life as we move through the book that make it a bit more believable that he would shoot himself. I’m sure we’ll learn more, but so far, the story is a pretty good balance of killing and character development.
Wee is a pretty good artist, too, which is nice. He doesn’t go too nuts with page layouts, but he’s a fine storyteller and some of his set pieces are really nice – the full-page spread of many of the Charlies dead in a room early in the book is horrific but well done, and the nuclear destruction of the “anchor” world is chilling.
Unfortunately, Bailey or Wee decided that Dark Everett should cut his own nose off (to spite his face, in fact, as we’re told at one point), and while the effect is supposed to be gruesome, it’s a bit odd, so Dark Everett doesn’t look quite as scary as he should. Wee does a good job with the faces of the characters, who are, after all, the same person – he makes them different enough so that we can tell them apart, but makes sure they’re all recognizably Charlie. In fact, the only significant non-Charlie in the book is Hank, his long-time friend, and unfortunately, he looks a bit like Charlie too. Bailey/Wee could have made him black or Asian or even blond, but he looks a bit too much like Charlie, and it’s too bad. Luckily, the characters tend to identify him, so the confusion is lessened, but it’s still vexing. I know, it’s minor, but still annoying.
Overall, I don’t know where Bailey is going with this, which is perfectly fine with me. Charlie Prime is experimenting with the stone, trying to figure out what powers he has over it, Dark Everett seems to have an agenda, his henchmen seem far more interesting than we’ve seen so far, and Bailey manages to sneak in some really bizarre sexual tension between Charlene and Charlie Prime, which is either deliberately creepy or is just me reading way too much into this (not that I think Bailey will have anything happen, but if it is deliberate, I think it’s pretty neat that he would imply it). Cura Te Ipsum is a fascinating comic with a really neat idea, and so far, Bailey and Wee are doing a good job with it. I can certainly Recommend what I’ve read so far, and I hope that you at least check out the site even if you don’t feel like buying the print versions, even though there’s nothing wrong with that, you know! I’m looking forward to more from this team as the saga moves forward.
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