So often we see stories about average American Joes gaining powers and doing something with them. Problem is these average folks tend to be pretty well put together. What if said person gaining powers was a real mess of a person—a loser, a schlub or a guy who probably shouldn’t even be given powers? He’s too weak to do any harm, but it’s a waste he even has them. This is that story, but is it good?
Jacked #3 (Vertigo)
Protagonist Josh Jaffe came upon some pills that make him super strong. He used said powers on a bad man and sent him to the hospital. Now he’s sitting alone at night looking at porn and at the same time worrying about how unimportant he is.
Why does this book matter?
Writer Eric Kripke and artist John Higgins have been able to capture the mind of Josh quite well. I can imagine this person actually exists in this world—in fact, there are probably a lot of them—so it’s intriguing to see this kind of person going through these events.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A very very bad man is after Josh. Fortunately for Josh, he doesn’t know who he is yet. This man looms over the entire issue until the events on the cover take place and Josh must turn hero and do something about it. Kripke does a great job establishing Josh’s loser nature. Witness him puke on a man in a bear costume and take advice from a cereal box. He’s losing it, so when Kipke thrusts machine guns in his face it’s exciting to see how he reacts. In a lot of ways Kipke shows us who Josh really is and while he might Google himself and get depressed when he sees he doesn’t even exist on the internet he actually does care about something. And really that’s what this story is all about. What makes up a man, a man who is pathetic in every way but has no way to do anything about it.
Higgins does a great job establishing Josh’s depressing nature with a fantastic first page. As the man peers at his computer contemplating GILF lesbian porn we see his eyes lit only by the computer screen. He’s weak, sad and tired of his miserable lot in life. Higgins makes us sad for him even when he’s a slob who is powerless to do what many of us do everyday. The issue is filled with great moments that work due to Higgins art too, like the puke scene or the talking cereal box. They’re believable in an issue that’s rife with realistic looking moments. One in particular, as the bad guys view Josh from afar in a car, looks so foreboding and scary I thought I was watching a great TV cop drama. The art gets really good when Josh uses his powers though; Higgins does a great job making his powers look realistic. He’s not tossing a trash can with speed lines flying and graphics exploding, but instead there’s water and grime sloughing off. When the bad guys get hit the gore is quite gruesome too.
It can’t be perfect can it?
New readers will be lost as far as the guy in the hospital bed. That’s minor and probably your fault if it’s an issue though.
I’m not feeling the relationship between Josh and his wife. They’re clearly stuck and can’t communicate, but I’m not believing Josh is incapable of opening up. He’s sitting at his computer Googling himself every night but can’t just kiss the woman?
Soon he will be called Pukey the Bear!
Is It Good?
There’s very strong character work in play here. If you’re a lover of character building and the dynamics with which they grow check this book out!