In its third issue, Citizen Jack begins to shift from a comedy with malevolent elements to a full-on, blood-soaked tragedy. But is this supernatural political satire still worthy of being elected to your pull pile? Speaking to a rally of thousands, which, with its attendees dressed up in costumes, resembles a comic-con more than it does a political speaking engagement, Our Man Jack (Northworthy) bleats out easily-digestible campaign slogans and chants to rev up his support and nab the Freedom Party’s nomination for the Presidency. Things, however, do not go according to plan (as you might expect when selling your soul for power), and by issue’s end, Jack is left a hot mess, but more dominant than ever.
One of the best things about this series when it first started out was that it starred a man - Jack - well outside of his own depth, either as a political candidate or simply as a functioning adult. But as imbecilic as he was, you had to like him for wanting to transcend his station in life, however nefariously. What makes this issue great is the logical yet terrible evolution of that dynamic, wherein he, and indeed everyone around him, tragically embrace the necessary evils on the road to power. Unfortunately for those involved, said evils include an actual demon named Marlinspike, whose murderous lust powers Jack’s own political drive, for reasons as yet unknown.
I’ve compared Northworthy to Trump in earlier reviews, but this issue makes me see him more as a George W. Bush: a tragic villain who is defined by his own staggering ineptitude and the wills of those who would use him for their own bids for power; be they voracious hellbeasts or increasingly crooked campaign managers... although those things might actually be one in the same. Regardless, Jack is a product of his own avarice and stupidity, but seeing this endearing buffoon’s slide into truly dark territory, just to get what he wants, is unnerving. It’s like watching Falstaff become Richard III.
Structurally, this issue is as easy to consume as the platitudes with which Jack feeds his audience of admirers. Quickly paced and filled mostly with bluster, his descent might feel rushed to some, but I do feel like the creative team has done well enough in building up his desire to be something greater than himself, making the slope on which he now slides an understandably slippery one.
Humphries does a good job with not only Jack’s new standing, but in illustrating the motivations and machinations of his manager, Donna. And while it confirms why she is in this story, it doesn’t feel like anything new. I also doubt that what happens at the end of the issue would be so neatly swept under the rug, but in a comic book involving all-powerful devils, let’s not dwell too long on realism, yes? Otherwise, the storytelling this issue was tight and fun, with lightning-fast dialogue and no small amount of humor.
Patterson’s art, meanwhile, continues to be a sturdy canvas for the narrative, with loose, fluid lines that often come across as caricature in their over-the-top emotiveness. This, of course, works well in a story with political underpinnings, though it never really gets away from itself. My only problem with the visual direction is Alderink’s colors, which aren’t necessarily bad, but as before, still feel inconsistent: washed-out at times and overly reliant on photoshopping at others, which may aggravate traditionalists. Saying that, there are one or two moments - all of them, visceral - in which Alderink turns in a fantastic performance.
Citizen Jack #3’s massive tonal shift comes somewhat expectedly, with a swerve that may be telegraphed, but is not much less impacting for it. I continue to be high on this Image series, if for no other reason than to see how far and fast our “hero” will fall.
Citizen Jack #3 Writer: Sam Humphries Artist: Tommy Patterson Colorist: Jon Alderink Letterer: Rachel Deering Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/13/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital