Do we all need to be heroes? Sure most of us want to be, but what if we were actually given superpowers? Would we even use them for good? This series toys with that conversation as an overweight average Joe takes a pill that makes him super strong. The problem is it gets him into a lot of trouble very fast. So far this series has been solid, but is the penultimate issue good?
Jacked #5 (Vertigo)
Josh Jaffe has acquired pills that make him super strong and now his life is near being completely screwed up. He used said powers on a bad man and now Josh is inside a drug dealer’s den ready to kill him and everyone else to protect his family. To make matters worse he’s tripping balls as the last pill he had was an old one. This should be fun.
Why does this book matter?
Writer Eric Kripke and artists John Higgins and Marc Olivent have delivered everything Vertigo promises: adult themes, complicated characters, and an inspired premise. You really can’t go wrong with this title if you’re into stories that challenge you.
So this is different.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Right out of the gate this issue slaps you in the face with an insane drug-induced hallucination. Josh encounters a woman screwing a transformer in multiple positions. At the same time said woman and transformer are having a full conversation with him. The story continues on like this, with Josh seeing all the bad guys as weird, humanoid food items. Certainly it makes it easier to kill them when you throw a giant bong-bong candy bar at them and they explode. It becomes a hilarious joke quickly though as in the next panel we see the gore and destruction caused to the people with intestines and blood flying.
As the issue progresses things become ever weirder, with rooms filled with breasts to even heroes showing up. The best part of the issue isn’t the gore and hallucinations though, but rather a well written sequence of Josh coming to grips with who he is. Kripke essentially delivers the meaning of the entire series and really the meaning of all our lives. We may all read comic books and watch movies wishing we were like the heroes, but we don’t have to be. In fact just being a good person is all that matters.
The art continues to be good too. John Higgins and Marc Olivent have a tough job and they make it work here. Imagine seeing, “Woman having sex in all sorts of sexual positions with robot” and you can understand the difficulty of this issue. They’ve somehow managed to make the horrific looking food bad guys horrific and funny at the same time too. Much like actually doing drugs, what you see isn’t all laughs and they’ve accomplished that. The more human moments are believable and feel earned too, largely due to the art.
It can’t be perfect can it?
But at times the art looks a little too slapdash for its own good. In one scene a dog looks way too humanoid (and it’s not a hallucination moment), and I’m not certain the hallucination scenes work every time. They’re drawn a little less detailed to convey that they are imaginary, but it hurts the impact when a room filled with breasts look like quickly drawn half ovals. It’s relatively minor in the grand scheme of things (and compared to how well some scenes work due to the visuals), but it can take you out of the experience. Plus this issue lacks some of the more inspired layouts previous issues had and is much more straight forward with its storytelling.
Is It Good?
I guarantee you will have fun tripping balls with the protagonist as this issue makes for a scary, funny, and shockingly fun read.