The final issue is here as Jacked comes to an end. The hero must save his family, but can he get jacked? Is it good?
Jacked #6 (Vertigo Comics)
The cover indicates it’s not going to go so well for our protagonist Josh, as does the official solicit:
Can Josh be a hero without being super? Will he still have a family to go back to? One way or the other, kicking an addiction proves harder than kicking some guys in the face as JACKED reaches its shocking conclusion.
Why does this book matter?
The adult themes in this series work largely because they’re written for mature readers and it’s certainly not pandering to them either. Eric Kripke manages to infuse it with sex, violence, and the utter depression most adults face every day, which in turn makes the comic relatable and compelling. Don’t be surprised if this is turned into a movie.
Can he be the hero his family needs?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
So often we’ve seen average people become heroes either literally with powers–as we’ve seen in this series so far–or through sheer force of will. We get the latter in this issue and Kripke manages to make it feel original and fresh. Josh is a lovable loser, but a man who must save his children because of his bungling under the influence of Jacked. This issue plays out as you might expect, but there are some fun twists I won’t spoil that make him a regular Superman.
Kripke keeps the gore, sex, and adult themes strong too so don’t think it’s light on that. The gore in this issue is pretty intense and reminds us these characters are flesh and blood. There’s also another fantastic scene of Josh tripping that shouldn’t be missed.
It also maintains its emotional resonance in a couple of ways. For starters, we get a heartbreaking scene with Josh’s son reminding us Josh is fighting for something. We’re also given a bit of backstory on Jessica to make her story feel earned and complete. Hell, even the bad guy who has kidnapped Josh’s family has a reason to be pissed off. Everyone has a reason to be upset and we know that going into the big climax. That’s good character writing.
The art by John Higgins continues to be fantastic as well. The drug trip I mentioned above is fun as heck and the characters (and gore) continue to look quite realistic. The heavy inks give everything a darker tone, but that has fit this series from the beginning. One scene showcases how the more realistic style works well to tell the story where Josh walks by a movie set and an actor in a superhero costume is talking to a cameraman. He looks incredibly ordinary even though he’s muscular–and looking a bit silly in full makeup–and it matches the point of the captions as they express the amount of work people go through to make superheroes look like gods to be idolized.
It can’t be perfect can it?
My only issue is a bit of a spoiler. It involves Josh making it out of this issue uscathed. Let’s just say the bad guy repeatedly mentions how Josh killed his brother, which you’d think would mean Josh is definitely going to be dead by the end. Why he doesn’t off him isn’t explained and it left an element on the table I wish was addressed.
Is It Good?
Jacked concludes in the most satisfying way possible as lessons are learned, the meaning of being a hero is revealed and the storylines wrapped up nicely too. Jacked is a big win for Vertigo and is up there with the publisher’s best.