Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Review time! with ‘Vic Boone’

“She said ‘I don’t believe you’re tryin’ to find no job’; said ‘I seen you today you was standin’ on a corner leaning up against a post’ ”

Today’s comic is Vic Boone, which contains the main story and a bunch of back-ups. It’s written by Shawn Aldridge and drawn by Geoffo and Alex Diotto, while the back-ups are drawn by Jeff and Rachel Winstead, Jim McMunn, Andre Motta, MD and Will Perkins (it appears “MD” wrote this one, too), Mike Spicer, and Chris McFann. Invader Comics published it!

I don’t want to spend too much time on this mediocre comic, but I do try to review everything I buy, so I’ll write a little bit about. I continue to be puzzled by writers, who presumably have read some things in their lives. Why do writers always – always – hit the tropes of a genre with such regularity and lack of originality? Do they think it will sell because of the familiarity? Do they think the tropes are just so cool that they have to use them? Do they think they’re doing something different with the tropes? Are they just not aware of it? I wonder this a lot in fiction like this, in which Aldridge conjures up a Portland (Oregon) in the future and then puts a hard-boiled P.I. into it, solving a case of murder and (possibly) corporate espionage. On the surface, that’s fine: the futuristic setting allows for things like artificial intelligence and clones and flies with human heads and gorilla guards, and Aldridge has some fun with that. But he creates a dull-as-dishwater plot, in which Vic Boone, our hero, is hired by a femme fatale (who strictly conforms to Pop Culture Rule #1, don’t you worry!) because she’s been framed for the murder of one of her husband’s business partners. Her husband, naturally, is loaded, and she’s worried he’s framing her so he won’t have to pay for a big divorce settlement, as he’s fooling around on her. She, of course, gets into bed with Vic eventually, and she, of course, then disappears – she’s kidnapped, supposedly, and then Vic is framed for a murder before he can find her, so he’s on the run but still on the job! This is all painfully familiar, and the ending is even more familiar, and Aldridge doesn’t really do anything interesting with it except add some silly ancillary characters to let us know that, yes, it’s the future (Andre, the fly with the human head – or human with a fly body – is an interesting character, but only visually). There’s nothing here that makes us think, “Wow, this is a new kind of noir story,” and I wonder why. Why does Aldridge have Vic and the dame – her name is Nina, but that’s not important – have sex? Why does he conform so neatly to Pop Culture Rule #1? Why are the cops corrupt and why does the main cop bear a grudge against Vic? Why does Vic get help from a woman whom he’s betrayed in the past but still really loves, and she still loves him despite his betrayal? Why does Vic drink too much, of course (there’s a reason for it, but why even give him a reason?)? Why is the scumbag gajillionaire such a straight-to-type scumbag? It’s so frustrating, reading this comic, because it’s just so paint-by-numbers that your mind wanders to other things, like why this is all happening this way. Couldn’t Vic keep it in his pants? Couldn’t the gajillionaire be a scumbag, but in a different way than every other one on the planet? Couldn’t the cops not be corrupt? Couldn’t Vic not have betrayed his one true love, or couldn’t she simply not help him because he did betray her and she’s not going to forgive that? I mean, it’s not hard to do better with something like this, because everyone knows the tropes. All you have to do is subvert them just a little bit, and things might be better. Aldridge has no interest in that. He has a sense of humor – some of the dialogue is quite funny and clever – and the plot does have some odd elements, mostly due to the time setting, but man! this follows a well-worn path, and who has time for that?

The art is nice, though. Heavy, jagged lines, weird characters, and a vibrant and fascinating color scheme. There’s nothing really wrong with the art.

I hate not liking stuff like this. I want to dig it, but … I just can’t. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying with noir stuff or science fiction stuff!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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