Goddamn, I mean, just, goddamn… While this is my first time reviewing Big Man Plans I have been keeping up with it and it has felt like an eternity waiting between issue #2 and issue #3. Last issue was yet another tour de force but I felt that they really accelerated the story by having the antagonists stringing Big Man up, beating him like a piñata, lighting him on fire and letting him fall into a river. It kind of felt, I don’t know, rushed? Unearned? It gave the bad guys too much heat, made them a bit too bad and I felt it may have wounded our protagonist a bit too much. I was, however, wrong. I don’t want to give too much away because, really, everyone should be reading Big Man Plans. Well, anyone over the age of 18 anyway. I don’t know if you’d really want to give a book that opens with a graphic but casual castration to anyone under 18. I do definitely want to give props to the art in the book which is strong as hell. The art on this book really floats everything else and, much like peanut butter on hot pie, it fills in all the little cracks in your heart. It’s really something that ONLY Eric Powel can do. I’ve seen super realistic art before but nothing is quite evocative as Eric Powell. He knows just when to be exaggerated or cartoony, when to blur those lines between real, unreal and surreal to create something uniquely powerful. The art in Big Man Plans is big. It feels big, every page feels like I’m looking at poster, it’s larger than life. I don’t usually gush about art, mostly because my eye is very untrained, I can see really bad art and I can see really good art but most of it just lands in the middle and it exists. Powell is not just good but very, very good.
The story attempts to match the art but falls a little short of that lofty goal. It is still fantastic, but it’s a revenge story and as a genre the revenge genre is pretty basic. We have a kind of hazy backstory and a letter that, apparently, contains some pretty heady stuff. Potent enough to turn a mother on her beloved son, the son she choose over Big Man when Big Man’s father died. Potent enough that she didn’t seem all that bothered when Big Man disassembled her sons head with a pair of pliers. Yes, that sentence is correct. So, they still have that bomb to drop on us. The highlights for me have been the Vietnam flashbacks, if this book were just about people relating their run-ins with ‘The tiniest version of death’ I would be pretty satisfied. A kind of Canterbury Tales of vicious little person violence.
I find the character of Big Man very compelling and ultimately that’s what drives the story forward for me. It’s what gets me beyond the rather standard revenge plot. I feel for him and what he’s been through but at the same time he is intimidating as hell. He’s the perfect example of tragic badass and I can’t wait to see how it ends. But as I read this book I can’t help but picture an HBO mini-series with Peter Dinklage where we get to see this glorious story play out in full motion.