Overview

Jack in the Box #1

Review

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Jack in the Box #1

Credits

  • Words: Martin Buxton
  • Art: Tony Wicks
  • Inks: Tony Wicks
  • Colors: Tony Wicks
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: C2D4
  • Price: $5.00

Somewhere in the heart of a big city, tucked neatly inside an alleyway, lies a box.  Just an ordinary cardboard box but within it lives an overgrown boy named Jack, a young man’s body housing a child’s mind. Jack’s box is opened by a horrific figure named Gusano, a pale-skinned creature that works for the two beings known only as “Mother” and “Father”.  Mother and Father live in a nearby dimension, and Jack is the key to their many years of experimentation—but in what way?  What is their search for and why?  As Jack begins his journey through urban streets and stumbles across a pink-skinned girl named Amelia, a girl who broadcasts love wherever she goes and to whomever she meets,things quickly unravel, and the answers to all stand to be revealed.

Jack in the Box is one of two inaugural offerings by UK small publisher Comics 2 Die 4 (or “C2D4”, as they’re most commonly referred to), and it is unquestionably a story that leaves an impression.  Scripter Martin Buxton has crafted a multi-layered plot involving a multi-layered universe, and he proceeds to tell his tale in radically unorthodox fashion.  Actually, in a way, he seems to follow an old-school rule of screenwriting: enter the scene as late as possible and then leave it as soon as possible.  Jack #1 starts right off in the thick of it, Jack and Gusano, Mother, Father, and Amelia all deep into their respective roles, and then the narrative swings about in time and space to slowly bring the pieces together.  Even with this, though, Buxton marvelously offers a landscape of information without in fact giving anything away.  It’s anyone’s guess where JinB goes from here, what the purpose or point of the series will be, what roles each character will ultimately play—there’s zero predictability, though the story’s elements are crystal clear, and the confusion intriguing more than frustrating.

Buxton’s dialogue is classic and smooth and his caption narratives polished.  The script is tighter and cleaner than most pro books, which is a substantial merit for a new publisher, especially a new publisher’s introductory work.  The story is wonderfully odd, though no more so than a Doctor Who yarn or new 2000AD entry.  There’s a great medley of genres at play and Buxton introduces a memorable visual ingredient to the title character Jack’s unique state of mind, a bit of cool iconography that artist Tony Wicks implements with expert ability.

Beyond the script, of course then, is Wicks’ art, the actual physical product that is “comic book”, and Mr. Tony does not disappoint.  In fact, he brings down the house, roof and all, with his fabulously thick linework and unforgettable anatomy the likes of which I haven’t seen since the immortal Fletcher Hanks.  Much like Hanks’ long-loved super-wizards and mystery women of the jungle, Wicks’ figures and layouts all prove mesmerizing, the action and angles overstated though the final effect offering a subtle subtext in so many things, a perfect combination of pulp classic pastiche and avant-garde edginess.  Moments range from childish to innocent to horrific without missing a beat.  Wicks’ pages never falter, and the detail offered is extraordinary.  A definite star in the making.

Jack in the Box is a book that made a heavy impact on me.  If I had read it when I was younger, and more impressionable, this would undoubtedly be one of those life-altering, perspective-defining stories that’d never let my boyish mind go.  I’d recall it and recite it to friends, decades later, always musing on its qualities and wanting to see more things like it.  As it stands, I still want to see more things of like it, and if nothing else the book definitely stands as a dynamic new weird-fiction ongoing.  Read the first issue and you’ll likely be checking the website for updates every goddamned day.

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To order copies of any and all C2D4 Comics go to www.C2D4.com

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