During its inaugural group review here at Comic Bastards, Joe Casey’s The Bounce #1 received the following scores: 3 Passes, 2 Buys, 1 Borrow. I admit to being one of the buys, but after reading this second issue, I’m gonna have to go ahead and amend that to just a “borrow.” This book is just too fucking weird. Then again, it isn’t without its charms. The story continues with our hero, Jasper Jenkins, chemically caught betwixt our world and one in which his apparently dead friend Zander still lives. We later discover exactly how Zander has reached the shores of this strange, dream-like city infested with costumed heroes. [SPOILER]: It happens to be the same way that Jasper got his cuh-razy powers! There goes my theory about getting bitten by a radioactive moon bounce.
No, the process actually involves a mass science experiment featuring mysterious injections, S&M wheelchairs, yellow lightning and exploding slackers. Secret government Meth experiments: sure, they pay better than sperm donation, but seriously you guys ... not even once.
After Jasper wakes up from his sentient drug-induced trip (thanks to a guy called Fog: The Inhalable Man) and a rather disturbing jaunt down memory lane, he finds himself at the graces of the city’s fiery Assistant District Attorney, Jeremiah Jenkins, whose last name should imply a more familial connection between the two. Sadly, the type of hostility at play within this relationship is tired, worn and done to absolute death.
It’s pretty clear that Casey is going for an “I learned it from watching you” meets “Do as I say, not as I do” approach to drug culture, and while that argument has merit, it’s no longer interesting and hasn’t been for some time. The same could be said for the “shocking end” of this book, which involves surprise cross-dressing and a “What the fuck, man?” which comes across as trite, uninspired and bland. Casey is better than this. Much better.
Finally, intermingled with scenes of our hero cracking heads of random thugs (at some or another indeterminate time), we meet up with the man who will undoubtedly prove to be the looming villain of this piece: the chocolate milk-obsessed (and I’m guessing interdimensionally-born) Mr. Darling. We join him at a ball where he lobbies D.C. lobbyists to vote for ... something? It’s a safe bet that something is the portal we saw from the first issue, but it’s never explicitly mentioned or explained here.
The only real part of The Bounce #2 that piques my curiosity to any measurable degree is the world in which Jasper’s buddy Zander finds himself trapped. It’s a sort of “supergatory” (© Steve Paugh, 2013), where he is apparently forced to play the part of damsel in distress. Whether he is trying to commit suicide to extricate himself from the situation or just to die is of little consequence, because every time he does, some caped crusader swoops in to save him.
I like the way this takes the superhero world and flips it on its ear by focusing its classic purpose (to protect and serve the unpowered) to a maddening degree, almost in an I Have No Mouth, and I must Scream kind of way. It’s oddly hellish and disturbing, but unfortunately, there is no correlation, no bridge between these two worlds besides a psychedelic high. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing more of this thread explored.
Even though I’m not enamored with this book so far, I still have a lot of faith In Joe Casey. Just like any creator, he isn’t perfect, but he has proven time and time again to be an excellent writer with fantastic ideas. His work here, however, just feels haphazard and manic, jumping around all over the shop. Now, that would be fine for a book with a name like The Bounce, but just like every ricochet, it needs a solid groundwork to act as a brace. Right now, this story is too cracked, too oddly fragmented to provide that firm base.
The art from Messina is terrific for the most part, and though some of his faces do feel a bit “samey” after a while, the art successfully buoys this book at a medium score. His stuff has a certain sheen that looks great when cast against a dirty world, a juxtaposition he accomplishes quite well in the visual difference between reality and Zander’s limbo, which has some very familiar, very eerie-looking Lichtenstein circles churning beneath its surface: yet another reason that storyline intrigues me.
In the end, I do believe in Joe Casey, and I’m willing to stick around to be there when this title (like Zander) finally bounces back from the super-powered yet mundane place it currently finds itself.
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: David Messina
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 6/26/13