Poor Greg Salinger. An unhinged merc trying to kick the killing habit ending up in charge of SHIELD’s psychotherapy unit for the lamest supervillains is a fate matched in cruelty only by alcoholic Sam Malone buying that bar in Boston. In Foolkiller #2, can the strung-out schizo keep from living up to his name? Is it good?
Foolkiller #2 (Marvel Comics)
That’s what SHIELD needs — “a Punisher they can aim”! See, this can all work! Give these goons a little “tell me about your father,” and then bust the heads that can’t be shrunk. But what happens when the fool in need of killing … is a fool for you? And what kind of jerkwad would force you to face that dilemma? I mean, why would a disturbed murderholic have enemies?
Is It Good?
Foolkiller #2 is a progressive book, in many different meanings of the term. Most importantly, it actually moves the story from the first issue down the field and leaves it in a completely different place for #3. That might sound trivial, but it’s something many comics can’t accomplish, potentially leading to that “decompressed” feeling. This is the opposite of that. You’ll find yourself wondering how writer Max Bemis packed so much story development, pathos and genuinely funny humor into 20 paltry pages.
Foolkiller might be the next evolution in quirky villain comics. Some of the gags in this issue feel like odes to Superior Foes of Spider-Man, the fan-favorite Nick Spencer-penned story of Boomerang and his gang of lovable losers, but it’s so much more than that. While Foes was played almost exclusively for laughs, with that admittedly heart-melting revelation at the end, Foolkiller is already toying with our emotions and making us question what’s right and wrong — following the poop jokes. On the flip side, artist Dalibor Talajić can’t quite live up to the Superior standard set by Steve Lieber, and colorist Miroslav Mrva’s pastel color palette isn’t the best fit for Foolkiller‘s tone.
But all hail the record-time maturation of Max Bemis the comic writer. He pleasantly nails all the standard things — building tension through dialogue and actions before precisely alleviating or unleashing it, for example — but the amalgamation of humor and drama in a flowing, nail-biting narrative is something writers with 10 times his experience can’t always pull off. The “addiction” metaphor throughout Foolkiller #2 is a little heavy-handed, and he gets sucked into a “meta” joke hole from time to time, but overall it’s stunning to realize that Bemis is writing comics as a side gig, and not churning out instant classics with film options for Image or something.
It’s not just good …
Foolkiller #2 is a combination of humor, intrigue and narrative progression so rare in modern comics, it’s almost non-existent. Many books may attempt such a feat, but very few succeed so exquisitely. If you liked Superior Foes of Spider-Man, or the idea of it, Foolkiller will not only fill that gaping hole in your heart, it’ll make it grow three sizes. Just in time for Christmas!
Now when does the Shitman spin-off series come out?