Welcome to the Comic Bastards end of the year list. Similar to our group reviews, each of the participating writers will be giving their picks for their best and also worst comics of 2017. Without further ado, here are our #3 picks for Worst of 2017.
Dustin - The Gulf
It's rare that an indie book makes it on my worst of list. Mostly because I truly understand just how much time and effort goes into them. When an indie title comes up short it's far less annoying than when a book produced by fifteen people sucks ass every month.
The Gulf though was one of the hardest things in the world to read. Mostly because there was nothing to read. There was a legend to understand the chaotic composition of the story, which I quickly said, "fuck it" to and just look at the pictures. The book, if you can call it that, is filled with terrible photoshopped images that are meant to be taken seriously and worse, taken as actual art. If you ever needed a blueprint on what not do for a comic book, The Gulf is here for you. It is one of the most painful reads I have ever suffered through in all of comics and I can't wait to put it behind me once and for all.
Ben - Diablo House
Diablo House really bothered me. It’s not so much what it did do but what it didn’t do. I love anthology series, Twilight Zone, Black Mirror, etc., but the crux of these shows is that they give each episode enough time to breathe and introduce all of its characters and stakes organically. Diablo House did not. Half of its debut comic was dedicated to introducing the annoying surfer bro host who seemed unnecessary besides giving a history of the house and some socio-political commentary. Also what those great anthology series accomplish is that they actually say something of importance about the theme of the story (Over-reliance on technology is bad, Socialize with other people) and they achieve this in interesting ways. The Initial issue of Diablo House told a bland story about a couple of fish taco restaurant owners and the greed that destroyed them. And the message was “Don’t Be Greedy.” It was trivial and pointless just like the comic.
Oliver - JIMMY’S BASTARDS
Garth Ennis has always been a controversial creator. He likes to shock, and his work isn’t for everyone. Preacher is big and loud and obscene, but it’s still one hell of a good comic because none of it is really genuine and the story underneath is filled with real heart.
Jimmy’s Bastards doesn’t have that heart. It’s the sort of crude book which prefers to use its page count for transphobic jokes rather than actually develop some likable characters. There’s always been a slightly uncomfortable undertone of homophobia in Ennis’ work, but here it rises a little too close to the surface. I’ve always liked Ennis, but this is too far for me. It’s just distasteful.
Jonathan - Retcon
What a complete waste of a legitimately interesting concept. “The reboot of a comic book miniseries that has never existed” should’ve been the foundation for one hell of a metanarrative full of larger than life characters and universe-sized stakes. But, Matt Nixon had other things in mind. He wanted it to be grim and gritty and “mature.” He knew readers automatically feel attached to his characters, so he didn’t have to waste time on silly things like making them likable or giving reasons to care about them. But, most importantly, he couldn’t hit the ground running and introduce the main goddamn premise in the first issue. No, it’s much better to wait until the second half of the story to bring it up while also doing absolutely nothing to foreshadow it in the first half. Not that anything in this book is actually foreshadowed. More accurately, elements and characters appear straight out of left field and then immediately disappear after having barely any bearing on the plot. Bigfoot shows up at one point to give some exposition, and then he leaves. Is there any reason Bigfoot, in particular, was necessary to divulge this information? Nope. Could literally any other character have done it to equal or greater effect? Yep. So, Bigfoot was included just for the sake of including Bigfoot. Great job.
The only thing about Retcon that doesn’t completely fall apart is the art, but it’s still a far cry from roaring success. The attempts at stylization look little more than amateurish at times, and even when the art is at its best, nothing about it stands out as particularly unique or interesting. This is bar none the worst creator-owned title I read all year. And, it’s such a slap in the face from Image to all of the indie comic creators that pay out of pocket to self-publish because no one else will. There’s apparently going to be a follow-up series to this shit, and you better believe I’m going to review the hell out of that one too.