Ennis winds things up relatively quietly. There’s no return of the various supporting cast members—Joan of Arc doesn’t get a cameo, neither does Danny’s ex-girlfriend—instead, it’s just God, the Devil, the Anti-Christ and Jesus. Oh, and the talking bunny rabbit.
So it’s an intimate affair, lots of dialogue, a little sleight of hand. The problem with the issue—the first half, anyway—is the color scheme. It takes place in Hell, or at least a plain in limbo, and at night. It’s hard to make much out. Burrows’s art does come through, even the part when the reader needs to pay very close attention to something in the background, but it’s a chore.
Otherwise, it’s an excellent comic book. Ennis’s epilogue is full of humor, the kind kicked the series off with; it’s impossible not to enjoy.
Ennis ends on a quietly profound comment about friendship.
And here’s where Vertigo could have made more sensational news than in its entire history… Ennis’s God is a compulsive masturbator. I’d forgotten.
Burrows really captures the full page reveal beautifully, as well as Jimmy’s reaction to it.
There’s a bunch of great scenes this issue (as usual). Whether it’s Danny beating Judas to death or running into his ex-girlfriend, Ennis is on the top of his game. The ex-girlfriend scene is touching and sensitive and good writing. The Judas scene is a little different. Ennis sets Judas up as an unrepentant jerk (which sort of sells Wormwood a little to Christians, doesn’t it?) and his beat-down is glorious. Ennis learned how to make visceral violence rewarding on Preacher and just utilizes that skill again here.
Jimmy gets a lot of great lines in; he could support his own series.
As the penultimate issue, it works great.
Ennis is clearly gearing things up here for the finish, which is appropriate, I suppose, as he is in the second half of the series.
The beginning is more of the boys in Hell on their road trip (Jay eventually gets sick) while Satan and Pope Jacko hang out and try to figure out how to get armageddon started. There’s a lot of expository dialogue here from Satan about the history of Christianity. Ennis pulls it off, but he’s basically just on a soap box. It works… it’s just obvious.
Then the boys get back to New York and Ennis introduces another character who figures into the whole apocalypse thing. It’s a side story, one with some really funny details and opportunities to deepen Jay’s character (very sublimely, I’ll add) and give Jimmy some good lines.
The hard cliffhanger exemplifies creating tension without action.
Ennis continues to do great work.
There’s a bunch of funny stuff this issue—the trip to Heaven has a great punchline—and Ennis gets in an unexpected Marvelman nod….
But for the first time, in his comic about the LAPD beating in half of Jesus’s head and the Anti-Christ being a pretty good guy all around, Ennis starts to get a little disturbing. His images of Hell, which Jacen Burrows handles without aggrandizing, are incredibly disturbing. Ennis knows how to turn the screws without a lot of effort.
Then the finale brings things a little more humorous—with Pope Jacko and Satan teaming up—but it’s not enough to recover the mood.
Even though it’s Avatar and Vertigo would never have the stones, Wormwood feels like a late eighties Vertigo book. It feels like something everyone involved is excited about and assuredly doing great work on.
Though Jay doesn’t get enough lines this issue.
Ennis gets downright playful with the way he uses narrative in this issue. It’s a relatively simple move, but it focuses the reader on the page for a determined amount of time, regardless of how fast he or she usually reads. It’s a nice little trick.
The issue opens with Danny bickering with his father—his father being Satan—juxtaposed with the Catholic Church’s latest problem. The Church has gone and made a “red-blooded Australian” Pope and Pope Jacko is a fantastic foil for the story. Of course, so far, he has nothing to do with Danny, he’s just over in Vatican City being realistic while the rest of the Church is being reprehensible.
Jimmy the rabbit finally gets page time this issue too. He’s central to the finish. He’s one of Ennis’s stranger characters; Garth Ennis making a cute, obnoxious bunny. Who knew he had it in him?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one… Jesus and the Anti-Christ are sitting in a bar and….
And there’s the pitch for Chronicles of Wormwood.
While Ennis does, on occasional, embrace his readers in terms of giving them something not just profound and good but also entertaining, Wormwood takes it to another level. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s contemporary. It’s got some filthy jokes and it’s got a talking bunny rabbit. It’s Garth Ennis talking about pop culture geeks and pop culture production.
I’ve read Wormwood before, of course, but I don’t think last time I realized how he’s talking about cable television shows and he’s basically creating the perfect property for it too.
Who wouldn’t want “Cheers,” only with Jay and Danny instead of Norm and Cliff?
The first person narration is what sells the comic. Ennis paces out all the exposition perfectly.
It’s an amazing comic book.
Other Atlas members get limited series from Jeff Parker, but Namora just gets a one-shot. It’s not even Atlas branded, it’s “Women of Marvel” branded. It seems like a sexist move (I’m sure it’s just a business one—female characters don’t sell enough to have their own series at Marvel).
It doesn’t help Parker doesn’t exactly have enough story for even a one-shot either. Oh, there’s some stuff here with Atlantis and some stuff with Namorita, but Parker isn’t revealing anything new or interesting about Namora here. He writes first person narration and there’s not a single moment of surprise. She likes breathing sometimes. Whoop-de-doo.
It’s an okay enough issue. Parker’s competent, even when he’s uninspired, and Namora’s a fine protagonist. Sara Pichelli’s art is also somewhat uninspired; at times it’s manga-influenced, but mostly not and the unsureness is no help.
Namora deserves better attention.
Well, Tischman proves me wrong and wraps everything up nicely.
The issue ends with a beautiful page from Bond and Hahn—not extraordinary content, just extraordinary execution—and all is right.
The characters each get their moment, though I suppose Tischman does have some major pacing issues. He inserts a year into the present action at the last minute, then apparently flashes back to resolving the protagonists’ story. That missing year would probably make an entertaining sequel.
Finishing the series, even with its one weaker issue and the logic gaps this one (I didn’t mention the glaring one because it would spoil too much), it’s an impressive little piece of work. The conspiracy genre—the comedy conspiracy genre—is one underrepresented in comic books and Tischman , Bond and Hahn certainly show the medium does well with it.
I do wish there’d been some acknowledgment of the wacky character names though.
In an apparent attempt to spite my compliments, Tischman turns in his weakest script. It’s not bad, it’s just not as good as it should be. He finished the previous issue with an earth-shattering reveal… this issue he moves along as though it’s not important.
So maybe it isn’t. But by making it unimportant, pretty much everything else is now unimportant too.
He also goes a little crazy with the flashbacks here, layering all the plot twists, making it even more jumbled. It’s no longer clear who the good guys are working with and who they aren’t working with and if they’re working with anyone at all.
Unfortunately, the large cast isn’t working out either. Tischman still has the cast members appear, but their activities are somewhat boring. It’s like he’s building toward something grand… which means next issue has a lot to do.
Still, it’s far from bad.
Oh, look at Tischman go—he totally turns Red Herring on its head at the end of this issue. He might have turned it on its head a few pages earlier too, but it’s too soon to tell.
This issue does make clear the situation with the aliens. He finally goes close third person with the head of the evil corporation and clears it up. Unfortunately, the handling of that aspect has become a weak point. Everything else in this issue is strong, whether it’s the character stuff or the comedy stuff, but the scene with the corporate guy… it’s unimaginative.
It’s like Tischman didn’t want to push too hard (or date the series). So he plays it safe and it comes off weak. I do think he’s been watching “American Dad” though, especially Patrick Stewart on that show.
Still, it’s another solid issue. Easily the best Tischman I’ve read.
Okay, Tischman’s starting to confuse me. The problem with Red Herring is the narration. It’s this close third person—with a bit of second mixed in—narration and it’s never clear who it’s talking about.
The problem is clear this issue, as I have no idea if aliens are real or if they’re just a big business ruse. Tischman moves from a guy who believes in them to someone who doesn’t….
Otherwise, the issue is pretty straightforward conspiracy stuff. It’s an action issue. Complications are ensuing, something to get the issue to its six issues. They aren’t bad complications and, actually, it’s maybe the best comics padding I’ve ever read.
The point of a conspiracy thriller is—to some degree—compelling padding. The answer is always at the end (presumably) so it’s the trip. Tischman gets it.
Hahn’s taking on more chores here and does fine with them.
Okay, I forgot to mention the alien conspiracy thing.
Tischman comes up with this great explanation for Area 51 and so on—well, it seems like he’s come up with one (he might have the little green men show up in the last issue anyway). The U.S. government is so stupid, they were duped by big business into believing aliens are real and after us… so give big business trillions of dollars.
It’s probably true, who knows….
Regardless, it’s a great idea and Tischman explores a lot of it this issue. His character names, which I noticed first issue a little, are a lot clearer here with “Penny Candy.” Tischman’s having a lot of fun, the reader’s supposed to being having fun too.
Nice art from Bond and Hahn. Who knew a mall could be so much fun to see rendered?
My only compliant is the issue ends too fast.
It’s hard, from the first issue, to guess where David Tischmann is going with Red Herring. As it turns out—unexpectedly—it appears to be a comedic political thriller, something along the lines of a national Carl Hiaasen novel (instead of just Florida).
Also of note is how little Tischmann seems to care about making the characters likable. He’s got Philip Bond on the art and Bond’s good at making people look amusing. There’s a complete disconnect between tone and art (except when the government witness gets attacked by pigeons) and it works really well for Red Herring. Tischmann makes it impossible to take the issue for granted.
He introduces something in the neighborhood of fourteen characters this issue—though at least five of them are supporting. It’s a nice big conspiracy-sized cast.
The issue’s all setup, so it’s hard to get too involved, but it’s certainly starting well.
For the last issue, Torres decides he needs a twist ending—no spoilers, but it’s the weakest of all possible twist endings. The ending I was hoping for, one setting up an awesome sequel, does not come to pass.
Ryp returns for the final two page spread. It would have been nice to have him the whole time, though I guess the replacements do all right. Once again, Malaka Studio and Antonio Vasquez do about the level of work I’d expect from this kind of thing. This issue has some monsters. I would have loved to see Ryp draw a monster.
Torres’s writing is at times too strong for it and too weak. His plotting is uninspired (the big reveal, like I said, is the weakest of all possible) but his actual writing in scene is quite good. Way too good for Nancy in Hell.
It’s disappointing, but still readable.