Overview

Footprints #1

Review

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Footprints #1

Credits

  • Words: Joey Esposito
  • Art: Jonathan Moore
  • Publisher: Joey Esposito & Jonathan Moore
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Mar 18, 2011

Recall Edgar Allan Poe’s 1841 short story, “The Murder in the Rue Morgue,” a macabre little tale attributed as being the first detective story. The culprit in the story is an orangutan that only wanted to give poor Madame L'Espanaye a shave, but the whole ordeal quickly turned into the bloody double homicide of the Madame (decapitated) and her daughter (strangled).

Enter Clive Barker more than a century later when he penned “New Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which, in the author’s expected style, wasn’t so much a mystery as it was an unsettling horror story. We know the new murderer tormenting the Rue Morgue is some kind of primate, but what we don’t expect is the creature’s identity being a loose gorilla from a local zoo that has shaved his body of all its hair, donning a billowy trench coat, and murdering (and if memory serves, copulating with) unsuspecting prostitutes.

Don’t ask me why, but I thought of these stories constantly as I read the premiere issue of Joey Esposito and Jonathan Moore’s new independent series, Footprints, a noir comic book that chronicles Bigfoot as a weathered private investigator. In the two “Rue Morgue” stories, a man-beast was the culprit, but here, a very similar being is our grizzled, reluctant hero. But the tone is different: we’re set in a gravelly, grainy world where everyone and everything is trouble just waiting to happen.

Bigfoot as a P.I. narrates the Footprints premiere issue, and he’s disenchanted by life. It hasn’t been easy for him: in this alternate world, homosexuals and atheists aren’t the only ones who need to come out of the closet. Monsters do, too, and it seems that Bigfoot was among the first to lead the charge. He’s a regular Harvey Milk for his kind. But all losses should be mourned because they are many and all victories should be celebrated because they are few. And judging from Foot’s (it’s what his buddies call him) demeanor, he’s done a lot of mourning and little celebrating in his life. Needless to say, this is not the Harry so beloved by the Hendersons.

We admittedly don’t know much about Foot, but at the opening of the book, he receives a letter from his brother—his lousy, rotten, good-for-nothing brother who is taking up roguish residence in the frigid north. Foot can’t waste any time—he needs to pay a visit to the Arctic quickly, and there is only one creature that Foot can rely on. The creature in question? Why, the Jersey Devil, of course, and I emphasize Jersey. We all know the stereotypes, and writer/co-creator Joey Esposito can’t resist having some fun here. Let’s just say that this incarnation of the Jersey Devil shares a similar cadence with Artie Lange.

Far up north, Foot discovers that his brother has been killed, and the word “Mother” is scrawled in blood above his headless corpse. (I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Tate murders and the gruesome violence of the Green Beret Killer.) The incident spurs Foot and Devil to call a secret meeting of the other famous monsters in the world in order to solve this mystery. Is it a hate crime, or something far more sinister? Foot intends to find out, and to help him is an eclectic posse of pals.  We have Nessie of Loch Ness, expectedly. There’s also the Chupacabra, better known as the Mexican Goat-Sucker.

The one monster that I wasn’t expecting was Don the Megalodon, who calls the Bermuda Triangle home. This is news to me: keep in mind that my favorite books as a kid were not Batman or R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, but rather Jerome Clark’s Unexplained and Daniel Cohen’s The Mummy’s Curse: 101 of the World’s Strangest Mysteries, so I like to think of myself as rather well-versed in all things weird. But the megalodon/Bermuda Triangle connection left me mystified. But I did a little searching on the Internet, and it seems that Esposito isn’t the only guy to make this leap.

In Footprints, we have a pinch of Sin City, a sprinkle of some Hellboy, and a culinary binder of The X-Files, but none of those recollections on my part take away from just how original this book is. Its power thrives in its tone, characterization, and visual presence. Sure it’s a mystery, but I couldn’t care less about a murder if I’m not compelled by those involved. But Foot is grizzled and tired. Devil is rude and unabashed. Nessie is sensitive but resourceful. And Don, for his size and strength, is a bit too prim and prissy for the others to completely take him seriously. How will they ever solve this case?

That’s the fun, isn’t it? Writer Esposito has given us a cast to relate to and care about despite the vast differences between our respective species. The rough, murky, gray illustrations of artist Jonathan Moore are both eerie and mystifying—and a complete joy to look at with every turn of the page. I don’t know how this will unfold, but I look forward to finding out along with Foot and his friends.

I couldn’t recommend the first issue of Footprints more.

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