After finishing The Deadbeat (Alterna Comics) a serious, graphically told story wrapped in the familiar guise of super-hero fiction, I’m left wanting more.
The story, written and illustrated by Jeremy Massie, follows an unnamed super-powered man who whose average day consists of going to the local pub to get drunk off of the chocolate-flavored beverage “YooHoo” served in a dirty glass — the only thing that’ll affect him due to his inherent invulnerability. His retirement, so to speak, came as a result of an epic battle with a mad scientist that killed hundreds of civilians, which included his wife. Distraught from this loss, he sends his infant daughter Vera to live with her aunt. Years later, he receives a letter informing him of Vera’s death, allowing him to further plunge into a shell of his former life.
When Vera, now fully grown with powers of her own, appears at the pub, our invulnerable man comes out of retirement with a new outlook on life.
There is a lot to love about this book, which has a very classic feel to it. It has the tone of a Will Eisner story in the sense that it deals with serious subjects that do not stretch the boundaries of being vulgar (meaning it is kid friendly). The characters’ traits are reminiscent of an old school Marvel book (YooHoo in a dirty glass, the best friend with powers of a squid, etc.). The crisp art stays in step with this, providing plenty of sequential panels demonstrating action as well as bridging gaps with the dialog.
Alternately, there were a few things I didn’t quite understand, chiefly, Massie’s decision to keep the name of his main character out of the story. Not knowing who I was reading about, combined with the story pacing in part one of the book, made it difficult to hold my attention. Beyond the opening, I felt like the pacing was nicely done — slowly giving more information about the character’s motivations.
The Deadbeat ends too soon, leaving me wondering about what the future will hold for Vera and how she’ll fit into a world inhabited by her father’s former colleagues. Given the title of the book, I don’t know that a sequel would make much sense, but I hope a follow-up is in order.