Friday, April 16, 2021

True Faith: Shoot 'em in the head

I was there for the earliest comics Garth Ennis ever published, when they showed up in Crisis. They were clumsy and derivative and preachy and ridiculously earnest, but he already had a great ear for dialogue, and his instinctive grasp of pacing was right there from the start.

Still, there was a moment where he really stood out for his peers and became a longtime favourite, and all it took was a particularly nasty bit of outright murder.

It's at the end of True Faith, where the young student at the centre of all the bloody confusion shows up at school with a bottle of vodka and a gun. A bullying teacher confronts him, and in one glorious full page spread from the deeply underrated Warren Pleece, gets his fucking brains blown out.

After years of terrible school shootings, it's a deeply problematic conclusion to the story, but I was a young arsehole, and was just impressed by how Ennis's story had  actually followed through, and didn't wimp out. He just straight up murdered the cunt. 

In similar comics of this era, you'd expect some kind of ironic detachment, or even some storytelling cowardice, and the gun would be empty or broken. Young Garth was having none of that and pulled the fucking trigger.

It's the philosophy that some things can only be sorted out with extreme violence in Ennis' later Punisher comics, and with a conclusion that ends in a long, cold dark of a life. True Faith's Nigel doesn't get that far, and is bound to be killed 10 seconds after the story ends.

But Pleece also gives Nigel flicking you a cheeky grin in the final panel, because you really thought he wasn't go to do it, and he fucking showed you.

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