Sucker Punch #1 (Short Pants Press)

St. Louisan Jason Robards is in Ghost World territory here, using a number of short vignettes to capture the directionless, listless nature of the post-ironic generation.

 

(SHORT PANTS PRESS; 32 PGS B&W; $3.00) (W/A: JASON ROBARDS) 
“Don’t worry dear reader,” protagonist Clarence Bathwater assures us, “this isn’t one of those self-obsessed, nostalgic yarns of a navel-gazing milquetoast who laments for the sunnier days of his youth.” Whew, that’s a relief.

In the three-part “Today Is the Day I Wish They Would Throw a Parade in My Name,” the story that takes up the bulk of the first issue of Sucker Punch, we follow the slice-of-life adventures of 25-year-old slacker/wannabe writer Bathwater, his-gal-Friday Frieda Beans, and Jason Mewes stand-in Harry Jiggs. Clarence may not be doing much navel-gazing, but that’s only because he’s too mired in self-loathing, desperately wanting to find the deeper meaning in life but constantly coming up short. Frieda wants to snap Clarence out of his funk and drags him out with wild man Harry for a night on the town.

Clarence’s situation never reaches any real resolution in the pages of Sucker Punch, but that isn’t really the point. St. Louisan Jason Robards is in Ghost World territory here, using a number of short vignettes to capture the directionless, listless nature of the post-ironic generation. The script is sharp and observant, realistically capturing the sort of conversations between twentysomething friends that careen between laments on the desperation of existence one minute and telling a friend to “grow a dick” the next. Fans of Kevin Smith movies will find much to love here.

Robards’ art is very much in the Dan Clowes school. The characters are mostly drawn very plainly, complementing the ordinary, real-life nature of the story, but can turn rubbery on a dime to accentuate the more physical humor. The layouts and pacing of the story are also top notch.

The only thing that hurts the enjoyment of Sucker Punch #1 is the seeming lack of any goal or objective for its characters. The stories in the first issue are interesting character studies, but seem happy to exist independently of each other. Hopefully as the series continues, Robards will develop the characters’ relationships and surroundings to create a story that will really hit home.

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