If this series had end credits, “With a Little Help from My Friends” would play over them. Ennis should call the next series The Wonder Years.
And there should be a third series, because for all my cynicism, Ennis does the impossible and leaves this Wormwood with more potential than he did the first series.
To get the trick done, of course, Ennis does have to show his cards. Turns out he’s been playing them extremely close to the chest. The cliffhanger resolution and the big reveal in this issue are deftly done. They even open up recollections of the previous series because it works on the character development level (retroactively).
Even if Jimenez technically brings the series down, Ennis is still at the top of his game with Wormwood. He’s able to change the series’s tone, its pacing and still it succeeds.
Chronicles of Wormwood just warms the heart.
Ennis is a cruel dude.
He becomes up with one of the better cliffhangers I can think of in the comic book medium, just because it plays with the reader’s hopes for the characters and his or her affection for them, but it doesn’t do anything dangerous so to speak.
Great cliffhanger (shame Jimenez isn’t up to par with it).
Otherwise, the comic is nearly sweet. It opens with Wormwood and his girlfriend having a heartfelt, then funny conversation. They’re hoping they can keep up the humor once they’ve got the baby. It’s touching, so Ennis later goes the other route with Pope Jacko explaining his take on humanity. It’s utterly hilarious.
The plotting of the issue is simply masterful. The reader knows something the characters do not and Ennis has a lot of fun delaying and distracting revelation.
I have no idea how he’ll finish up in one issue.
Ennis is definitely building to the conclusion. He’s put a character in danger, he’s raised the stakes with Wormwood… he’s even giving Jay a lot to do.
At this point, none of it feels rushed. In fact, the issue is kind of long in the tooth with Pope Jacko’s insights into being damned. It’s a fine enough scene and Ennis comes up with some great details, but it’s pointless. Jimenez doesn’t bring any funny business to it and so it’s plodding exposition.
Where the issue succeeds is in Wormwood and Jay’s scenes. Ennis gets to be playful with the rules–Wormwood can’t help but tempt, Jay makes everyone tell the truth–and it brings humor to an otherwise downbeat issue.
Jimenez also fails with the talking heads. It’s like he can do expressions, then overdoes the rest. It’s most striking when Wormwood’s pleading his case to his girlfriend.
Still, it’s excellent.
What the heck is Ennis doing? He’s half done with Last Battle and he’s maybe a quarter done with the story he’s trying. Unless he ends the universe. If he ends the universe I’m going to be very, very angry.
Worries aside, it’s another strong issue. It’s mostly Wormwood dealing with Jimmy outing himself in front of the girlfriend, in a very, very funny scene.
But all the impending fatherhood business–and here’s where Ennis is genius–raises the issue of whether Ennis himself is expecting. It doesn’t matter if he is or not, the issue raises the question of whether he should write about it or not. It loops in on itself beautifully.
As for Jimenez, who I usually complain about first… well, I could complain about him again but I won’t. I’ll just say he hasn’t improved.
It’s great writing, but I can’t imagine how Ennis’ll finish neatly.
Jimenez’s lack of humor hurts this issue too. Ennis brings back a very funny character and Jimenez can’t balance the humor and the horror. I mean, Ennis brings the character back from Hell so it’s got to be a little disturbing, but to lose the humor is a mistake.
Otherwise, the issue sails by. Wormwood is having father-to-be issues, which Ennis handles with equal parts comedy and drama. He really brings humanity to the Antichrist. Then Wormwood has a rough talk with his girlfriend, another place Jimenez fails. He doesn’t make her distinct at all.
The only problem with the issue is the aforementioned character returning. Maybe it’s just the weak art on the conclusion, but Ennis takes a lot of time on it and there’s just no payoff.
Still, it’s hard not to trust his narrative sensibilities… and the series’s event remain entirely unpredictable; Ennis’s consistently fresh.
Oscar Jimenez is not the right artist for Chronicles of Wormwood. He’s doing a Jacen Burrows (the original series’s artist) impression and it just doesn’t work. He doesn’t get the humor. He gets the scary, gross-out stuff, but not the humor.
And there’s a lot of humor. Oh, there’s drama–lots of drama. Jesus is getting better, Danny’s going to have a baby, he and Jimmy are fighting since Danny’s moved his girlfriend in… but there’s a lot of humor.
I mean, Jimmy is a foul-mouthed, horny rabbit, how can there not be humor?
Instead of dropping the cast in an entirely new situation, Garth Ennis is checking in with them some indeterminate time after the previous issue (a one-shot) and bringing the reader up to date. It’s impossible, with this issue, to predict where exactly he’s going with the comic.
Even with Jimenez, the magic’s back.
I can’t figure out what they were thinking with The Last Enemy. It’s an epilogue to the series, basically resetting Danny’s personal life and making room for a new villain. No telling if the new villain will be as hilarious as Pope Jacko though.
The most striking thing about it is Rob Steen. He does this terrible Jacen Burrows impression. I can’t believe they’d go from Burrows to Steen. Steen draws everyone short. I guess he probably draws Jimmy (the rabbit) all right.
Ennis is also sort of phoning it in. There’s not a lot of blasphemy here, but there are a ton of okay but obvious jokes. While it’s cool to have Jesus Christ and Jimmy debating the end of John Carpenter’s The Thing, it’s not clear if it’s the J.C. thing or the Carpenter thing or it just being a great movie.
Enemy’s harmless but should be excellent.
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.
It’s an imaginative conclusion and it’s… okay. It’s beneath Moore, sure, and I’m sorry he took such a—there’s no other word for it—fan-fic way out. But it’s okay.
It doesn’t quite make having reread The Courtyard worth it but he comes really close with it.
Moore kind of takes something one might think is completely unsuited for the graphic form and turns it into a comic book. The issue ends with talking heads and it kills the issue’s momentum. The characters explain everything in expository dialogue.
If this series were something Moore actually cared about, he’d have spent the issue a completely different way. I’m thinking about all the time he took with Promethea. He doesn’t bother (and Burrows probably couldn’t have made it look good enough—I like Burrows, but he’s got his limits and he hits them here a lot).
Neonomicon’s a nutty, decent series.
The Lurker Within; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Jacen Burrows; colorist, Juanmar; editor, William Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.