Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Bruce Campbell's comics of the dead

Getting in celebrities to have a go at writing comics rarely ends well. Even great prose writers with big non-comics fanbases can stumble when doing words and pictures together, struggling to show how things move in a static medium, or - more usually - drenching the art in heavy text to show how clever they are.

Sometimes, you get a novelist, or actor, or musician, or sportsperson or comedian who gets the comic medium and produce something wonderful. Gerard Wray came into writing comics with impeccable nerd credentials, but was still more of a star name as the MCR frontman, so it was still a little surprising when his comics turned out to be fun, interesting and clever.

Still, I'm not surprised that the latest star writer to have an ear for comics that I've noticed recently is Bruce Campbell, because Bruce Campbell can do anything.

He's been a goddamn legend since the first Evil Dead, a deeply charming and relentlessly energetic actor with a reckless disregard for both his own safety and his dignity. And now he's doing zombie comics in WW2 for DC. Which is just perfect.

It's not that there are any real twists or turns in the plot. It's Sergent Rock fighting nazi zombies, you know what you're getting. 

It's that the comics hum along. Sgt Rock is not the most verbose character a tthe best of times, even with the heavy 'war is hell' captions that often overload his classic stories, but there is no time for dealing with that shit right now, Rock, you got Nazi zombies and that Hitler jerk to deal with.  

The lack of any heavy narration from the writer gives Eduardo Risso's usual excellent work room to breathe, and keeps the action taught as the moody horror of the situtaion gets into your face

Seeing Campbell's name as the writer - and sole writer, no hand-holding by Marv Wolfman or anybody here - it looks like a gimmick. Give the well-known actor some comic, and what's the worst that could happen. 

Sometimes it pays off, and you get everything you might want from a Sgt Rock v zombies comic. Sometimes a gimmick is just a decent writer, giving a great comic artist wonderful things to draw, without getting in the way.

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