Written and Created by Kevin Moyers
Art by Philipp Neundorf
Release Date: June 9, 2007
Cover price: $1.75
Sorrow. Vengeance. Anger. Loneliness. Rage. The dark side of humanity’s frail emotional system is easy to turn to and even easier to lose oneself in. For Michael, these are the emotions that have plagued his life. His mother was murdered coming home from the hospital the day Michael was born. Dreams of her death have plagued Michael every night. Recently, Michael’s only friend, Glenn, was murdered outside their apartment when he tried to stop a local gang from stealing his car. The gang’s leader, Torre, put a bullet in Glenn’s head, and now all Michael can think about is doing what the law has failed to do — serve as judge, jury, and executioner. Michael’s obsession has cost him his job, his home, and most of his possessions. Now all that he has are the weapons needed to do the job. And tonight, on the rooftop his old high school, he is ready to collect.
Revenge-based vigilantism, much of which modern tales of this ilk owe a debt to the power of the novel and film adaptation Death Wish, is an easy theme to approach, but quite hard to execute successfully. Give too much power to the vigilante, and they become invincible and thus lose their connection to humans. Pour too much emotion into it, and it becomes watered-down and wishy-washy. The writer behind Scorn, Kevin Moyers, is ready to take up the challenge of a successful revenge story.
In the first issue (titled “Obsessed”), Moyers sets up everything we will need to know about the emotional train wreck that is Michael. Moyers does a pretty good job of setting up the late teenager, and we can understand Michael’s rash decision to turn to street justice when he believes the cops have failed. What Moyers adds is just a sprinkle of dark comic timing, which is surely influenced by his stand-up comedy. After Michael amps himself up to take his revenge, he leaps from a roof, and immediately cracks his ankle. It is not overly done, but just enough to show that Michael has no concept of what he is getting himself into. In that regard, he reminds us of a very young Bruce Wayne, whose first attempts to take back the night were an utter failure, and goes to show that no amount of prepping can prepare for the real deal.
To provide the art for the story, Moyers turned to artist Philipp Neundorf. Neundorf has had a rich past in providing comic book art, pinups, covers, and graphic designing. The proper art can provide an important and vital visual look into the state of being in stories that revolve around the emotional core of a single character. Here, Neundorf’s rough and chaotic artwork easily conveys what is jumbled up and shaking around in Michael’s head. His sepia color palate provides a weathered and yellowed look, like a very old photo or letter, hinting at Michael’s inability to escape the past. The splattering of bright red, which is a disturbingly ugly kick to the eyes and very in-the-moment against the past tense sepia tones, is the only solid color Neundorf uses. Neundorf also makes an interesting choice to type out sounds rather than draw them. The sound of gunfire is simply typed out “b-a-n-g” on top of the art. It is a very cold and clinical approach to the aural surroundings of Michael.
Michael’s inpatient approach to his target makes him a bit unbearable, but we also find sympathy in his cause, and must remember our own feelings of how we felt the world worked when we were teenagers. And unlike Batman or The Punisher, Michael at this point has a very clear target for his vengeance. There is hope that when Michael is done, he will have a sense of justice and that he will be at peace. But from what Moyers has put him through already in the first issue, it may be a long while before Michael gets to where he is going.