Wednesday, September 9, 2015

BODYCOUNT #2 – April 1996

Credits:  Kevin Eastman (story & layouts), Simon Bisley (pencils & inks), Steve Lavigne (letters & colors), Altered Earth Arts (computer colors)

Pizza-Free Summary:  Casey, Raphael, and Midnight escape Johnny Woo Woo’s men and travel to Pittsburgh.  On their way, another encounter with Woo Woo leaves a gas station destroyed.  In Pittsburgh, Midnight is reunited with her friend Courtney, who will allegedly arrange her trip to “Sanctuary.”  Johnny Woo Woo finds Courtney’s hideout and another firefight ensues.  Meanwhile, Detective Choy is assigned the case and paired with FBI agent Bode.

Continuity Notes:  Midnight claims she was “just a driver” for the mob and doesn’t know the details of their activities.  Raphael is suspicious, and doesn’t want to be rewarded with Midnight’s mob money.  Raphael is also unable to fire a gun during the story’s opening, since his fingers won’t fit in the trigger hole.  He later rips off the metal surrounding the trigger and fires an Uzi for the first time.

I Love the ‘90s:  Raphael comments “I feel retarded!” while in disguise at Grand Central Station.  It seems unlikely a major publisher would let that line go through today.

What the Shell?:  During one of the action scenes, Raphael picks up a grenade, pulls the pin, throws it into a hot dog cart, and shoves the cart into Woo Woo’s henchmen.  Why go through this elaborate sequence, and destroy someone else’s property, when you could just throw the stupid grenade?

Not Approved By The Comics Code Authority:  More ultra-violence, including more than one depiction of a character (literally) getting his head blown off or a hole blown in his body.

Review in a Half-Shell:  Hey, let’s follow up the previous issue of continuous running and fighting with more running and fighting.  The major problem with the story so far is that Midnight remains a cipher, so there’s no investment in whether or not the mob catches her.  Casey Jones’ decision to aid her is also poorly justified, the only explanation being that he’s a sucker for a pretty face.  Raphael, for his part, is reluctant to go along with any of this, but eventually decides to just enjoy the violence.  (That part I don’t mind so much, and to Eastman’s credit, he does establish early on that Raph wants nothing to do with the mob.)  The weak plot was a given, but so far I haven’t seen an action sequence so great it justifies the series’ other flaws.

The only break from the violence comes in two cutaway scenes, and both are so flimsy it’s hard to really rationalize their existence.  One scene has Detective Choy being assigned the case based on an unrevealed history with Woo Woo, and the other has Woo Woo flashing back to his assignment from Lord Dong to kill Midnight.  He doesn’t particularly want to do it, but he’s a loyal soldier and he’s going through with the job anyway.  Regardless, Woo Woo remains a dull antagonist, one without the personality required to carry an all-action story.  The only redeeming feature at this point is Bisley’s art, which is fairly inconsistent.  I like his Raphael, and some of his detailed close-up shots of the various characters look amazing.  However, I don’t care for his shorthand figures (all of those no-neck men are distracting), and his female characters all look Hustler cheap.  

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