Guest review, by Sam Graham
When Iron tagged me in to review a horror comic he'd been sent, I felt a promotion was a-beckoning, so I slapped his hand like the D-von to his Bubba Ray and climbed into the ring, ready to get slimy with a new frontier of reviewing.
Did you ever wonder what that weirdo kid from Children of the Corn (1984) was up to these days? Not the ginger one with the overbite; the other one. Well, neither did I. But for those of you that did, fear not! Because now you know...He wrote Prime Cuts.
But Isaac of the Corn (real name John Franklin) isn't alone. He's aided by Tim Sulka, who back in the day was writing Corn sequels long after everyone else stopped giving a shit (number 6 to be precise).
A comic can be ranked by four main categories: Plot, characters, narrative, and art. All are as important as the other, and like a Human Centipede, if one of these parts falters, the whole thing collapses.
Have you ever seen Sweeney Todd? The plot is that. So unashamedly so that the main character is actually a barber. As if that wasn't plagiaristic enough, his name is Todd Sweeney. Todd Fucking Sweeney? That's like if I drew a shark eating someone and called myself Spielberg Steven for doing it.
'Oh but the setting is different' I hear you cry, and you're right. The world is running out of meat (though it seems to have no effect on the ecosystem) and instead of being released from an overseas prison, Todd is let out of cosmetology prison. What's cosmetology prison? I dunno, it doesn't explain, but they're all gonna miss those mad haircuts (Isaac's words, not mine).
There's a goth lass who works in a pizzeria and her and...Todd (I despair. I really do) become friends. Nothing much else happens. The bad guy and a blond girl (who the bad guy covets and Todd seems to have a history with) are set up, and Todd ends up murdering a trucker mid-crewcut because of an underlying theme of fate. 'Fuck fate', as the book puts it. Though because it doesn't mention what Todd's fate actually is, it isn't really being fucked per say; more just casually felt-up like it's 3 am and Fate's lying on the curb outside a nightclub.
I love a good revenge story, but this crosses the line of 'homage'. Because they've so glaringly made this a pastiche of Sweeney Todd, I'm going to guess that Todd and the goth (Electra Love, though I sincerely doubt that's what's on her birth certificate) are gonna team up. He kills people. She puts them on a pizza. People get the meat they want, and Todd gets closer to his mark. Shit hits the fan when the blond girl gets pizzafied too, and they all either die or live sadly ever after. I'm sorry if I've just spoiled the Johnny Depp film for you, but the story is over 150 years old. If it's OK to mention that Bruce Willis dead in The Sixth Sense now, it's OK to talk about this.
Aside from Todd's rocky relationship with fate, he doesn't really have any development. Instead, he has quirks. Like the kid in The Purge's unexplained need to track his heart rate, and the kid in The Babadook's unexplained need to be an annoying little bastard, Todd feels the need to trim people's hair against their will. Why? Well, what's cosmetology prison?
Electra lets Todd feel her up on their first meeting. Now, I believe a person is defined by their actions and based on that mentality, read that last sentence again. For someone who on our first introduction has nothing but contempt for all of the pizzeria's customers, it doesn't seem right for her to go straight up to Todd, offer him a job, then let him grope her while saying: “You can stay here, but my bed's a lot softer”. She doesn't even seem too fucked when she walks into a murder. Instead, she just folds her arms, and cracks wise like Jeremy Kyle's just told to her that the doddering old billionaire she banged is her baby's father after all. The 'goth mistress of all things pizza' feels more like someone Isaac imagines while he's reaping his own corncob than a real person.
Because it's a little hard to establish and flesh out at character in just one issue, the lack of development can be forgiven. Even Spawn didn't start having any character until issue 4, or 5; whenever he stopped whining about being an undead badass really.
|Pictured: One Broody Bitch|
Prime Cuts' narrative on the first page comes across as being a dark-toned affair, almost noire in its sarcastic style. Then right away on page 2 you're treated to “welcome home, FUCKFACE!!!” Which is more Bam Margera than it is Dashiell Hammett. After that, it quickly becomes apparent it’s trying to appeal to the Reddit and Twitter generation, what with the hashtagging, the talk about 'mad haircutting skills', which I'm surprised they didn't spell with a 'z', and all the swearing. Now, I swear all the fucking time, but this just feels forced. Have you ever heard this conversation outside of a strip-club dressing room:
“I need a goddamn tampon.”
“Catch it in your cunt, cunt.”
Most of the narration comes from Todd's point of view, but from a 3rd person narrative, which I quite like, and there are times when it's quite well done, such as in the first few pages when he's leaving Cosmetology prison, however the trendy lingo puts it in this generation, and in years to come it'll just seem dated, like watching Hackers (1995).
Plagiarism and groping aside, this is where Prime Cuts falters. Take the opening page for example. It's a mess of multiple images all melded together with no signs to differentiate which part is which, and apart from a little blood it's all the same drab shade of grey. From there the rest of the panels look muddy and unpolished. Some of the lines overlap like the AT-AT in The Empire Strikes Back and some of the colouring goes outside the lines too. Most of the drawings look like sketches preparing for the final product, as opposed to the finished thing. Don't get me wrong, the illustrator, Rob Gutman has some talent, and his style works better with the portraits he's done on his website. But here, like losing your virginity, there's just something rushed and unsatisfying about the whole affair.