Jacked is a new Vertigo mini-series from the creator of the Supernatural and NBC’s Revolution, Eric Kripke. Teaming up with Watchmen colorist John Higgins, what does this big team have in store for us? Is it good?
Jacked #1 (Vertigo Comics)
Josh Jaffe isn’t a bad guy by any means, just an individual who has had the world completely beat him into the ground. His body hurts from the numerous problems he has. His family is disappointed with him. He hasn’t been able to get a job in years since he was downsized. He’s kind of a mess… but his brother may have solution for him. Special, unknown drugs from somewhere on the Internet that could give him the boost he needs to get back on his feet.
Story-wise, Jacked is a fairly familiar (to say the least) story with good execution behind it. Josh comes across as a legitimately sympathetic, if a bit tired and worn down by life, protagonist that I’m sure is fairly relatable to a lot of people going through a similar situation. He wants to get better and knows he has problems, but he just can’t seem to overcome them easily and he has lost a lot of his drive in life. Because of that, the decisions he makes feel understandable and the ending, which can be surprising, makes you wonder how everything will fall down around him in the end.
Eric’s writing isn’t too bad overall on this comic. Everything flows pretty well from scene to scene with very good transitions between them. Josh’s characterization is pretty good and he feels like a three-dimensional individual, though his family could use some work certainly. The dialogue isn’t too bad and doesn’t sound too unnatural or awkward. There’s a rather cynical tone and nature to the book in its narration and approach to its story that some may lik; it gives this type of story its own unique flavor (though for some, it probably won’t do much for them). Looking over it, Jacked feels more tightly written than most of the new Vertigo books.
Oh, how I have known that feeling for quite some time.
John Higgins’s penciling looks pretty good overall. All the characters look unique and different from one another (though the cross-hatching is a bit too much at points and makes some characters look older than they should). The layouts are expertly crafted and great to look at; everything flows together extremely naturally and moods and drug trips are displayed wonderfully . The attention to detail is stunning, especially with how Higgins shows a devastating car crash, and every page and panel has a background or impressively detailed location. It’s great looking overall.
The thing about Jacked is that it feels recycled in a way. A lot of the parts and ideas in this story I’ve seen done before in a lot of series. For instance, the drugs that grant superpowers with a realistic bent to them reminds me of MPH from Mark Millar or the guy who has a family that is disinterested in him or is losing respect can be seen in Hiroya Oku’s Inuyashiki (I’m sure these concepts have been seen even earlier). As such, the comic just has this unoriginal and been-there-done-that vibe to it at all times. You can probably predict where the comic is going most of the time because of that, so the experience isn’t particularly engaging or exciting for most of the ride. The only time the comic does something different or does a twist you may not seem coming (as long as you didn’t read any interviews or solicits) is the ending of the comic. Jacked, despite its good execution, just doesn’t feel fresh at all and feels like it is going through familiar motions for most of the issue.
I’m done being a dentist! You finish the work yourself! *leaves the room*
Is It Good?
Jacked #1 is probably one of the stronger debuts for Vertigo this year. While this is an overly familiar plot with concepts we’ve seen before, the execution with its main character and the potential it promises is quite intriguing. Plus, it also has some pretty decent writing and some great visuals to bolster it as well. Ultimately, this feels like a comic I’m going to need to see a second issue of first before I can get a really good feel for it and what to expect in the future. Overall though, if you are a fan of either of these creators, Jacked may be worth a shot if you’ve got some extra cash this week.