By Jonathan Edwards
Holy cow, I was not quite expecting this to be the direction this book went, but I'm so glad that it is. Last time I talked about how I didn't feel like this was a mean-spirited story, and frankly, this second issue only reinforces that. It's actually kind of amazing how much this issue makes you feel like Edwyn is an actually good guy that you want to root for despite the horrendously gruesome things he has the capacity to do. By the end of it, even his conversations with himself felt closer charming than anything else. It makes me wonder if Wagner's perhaps making some kind of statement about mental health. There's no denying that there's a huge stigma against people with mental disabilities, but here we have a protagonist who (even though he can and has taken human life in very violent ways) kind of just wants to love, laugh, live his life, and be left alone. Who cares if Virginia is a sex doll? She makes Edwyn happy, and people only get hurt when they try and mess with that. But, Edwyn is only "useful" when he's dangerous, and mental illness really does tend to be represented in much the same way in the media. That is to say, only when it's dangerous.
The first page of Plastic #2 exemplifies beautifully what I mean when I saw it's not a mean-spirited book. With only five panels Wagner and Hillyard establish what's about to happen, Edwyn's reluctance, his resolve, and that he does do it. The best part? We don't actually see him do it, nor are there any screams or other sounds related to it. This is some powerful storytelling, and there are at least a couple levels of meaning you can interpret from it in terms of the actuality of what happened. What's evident is that this is something truly horrible that's happening. There's weight to Edwyn's actions that even he feels, and that's reinforced by his behavior in the following scene. He truly doens't want to hurt these people, but he's being forced to. And while the "silence" (read: lack of SFX) is great from both narrative and emotional perspectives, not to mention just being in really good taste, it also implies that Edwyn tried to make it as painless as possible for them. Strong subtextual writing like this is why it pisses me off when people like Steve Orlando (with Justice League of America) just cram everything into garbage exposition and call it a day.
What's really interesting about the power of that first scene is how it juxtaposes with what happens next. Edwyn meets up with a hitman contracted by Belliveau, and after a bit of chit-chat, Edwyn brutally murders him. We see the beginning of the attack. We see the aftermath. And, we see his disembodied head. But, here's the thing, it weirdly doesn't feel all that gross. Dude was something of the cold and calculated type. Only in it for the money and unrepentant in his disregard for human life. So much so that he stuck the body of the man he shot in the head in the passenger seat next to him. This brazenness is in complete contrast what we saw Edwyn just go through. He's an honestly bad person, so Edwyn killing him does end up feeling somewhat justified. Not to mention, he was about ready to try and kill Edwyn as well.
The art continues to be just fantastic. Special mention has to go out to Laura Martin's colors which do some brilliant stuff, including the utilization of the well-established Hollywood color compliments of teal and orange, as well as everything she does with this issue's donut shop scene. Seriously, given the context (including the prominent of greens and yellows last time) the abundance of pink is fucking phenomenal, and I'm so excited to see if it turns out to be the foreshadowing I think it might be.
I'll be honest. Though I did really like the first issue, I was slightly anxious of Plastic potentially taking a sudden turn into inferior territory with this one. But, it absolutely didn't. I am so fucking sold on this series, and I will read all five God damn issues. It's still very true that this book isn't for everyone given the gore, dark tone, and subject matter. However, I do recommend this. If you haven't read the first issue, I'd urge you to find it and pick it up first, or, if necessary, wait for the trade. Because, you either want to miss all of this one or absolutely none of it.
Writer: Doug Wagner
Artist: Daniel Hillyard
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Keven Gardner
Publisher: Image Comics