Saturday, 6 June 2015

Postal, Volume 1 Review (Matt Hawkins, Bryan Hill, Isaac Goodhart)

Ever heard of a novel called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? Came out about ten years or so ago and became a bestseller. It was about a kid with Asperger’s Syndrome who sees his neighbour’s dog dead and decides to figure out who killed it and why. 

Since then other popular characters with Asperger’s have sprung up like Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory and Don Tillman in The Rosie Project books (who’s arguably derivative of Sheldon Cooper). 

Writers Matt Hawkins and Bryan Hill probably saw this popularity and decided “Me too!”. Postal is about a young man with Asperger’s called Mark, the postman of Eden, Wyoming, who finds a dead girl dumped in the street and decides to find out who killed her and why. 

To be fair to Hawkins and Hill they do differentiate their tale with a few wild cards. Eden is a town of covert criminals headed up by Mark’s mother, Mayor Shiffron, and everyone has a secret - even Mark’s crush, Maggie the waitress. And Mark’s about to discover the dead girl was a message - intended for him! Duh duh duuuuuuuh! 

Postal is actually a pretty decent comic. The main character with Asperger’s did strike me as a little contrived, particularly with regards his dialogue, though the occasional remark does put the condition into perspective:

“Asperger’s is like having a billion lights blinking at you all the time and the only way you can find peace is to name them all. But the more you name, the more lights that come. Doing things helps, things that force me to focus.”

Tasks to focus the mind brings calm to people with Asperger’s. Interesting to know, assuming it’s accurate as I don’t know anyone with the condition. I’m still conflicted about Mark though - I don’t think he’s a brilliant character because he’s defined by his Asperger’s and not much else. In fact, Mark’s mum and Maggie both felt like characters I’d seen dozens of times before - Maggie the girl with a secret and a heart of gold, and Mark’s mum who’s the hardened older woman with a rough history. 

Once the story reveals itself, that too comes off as quite contrived. Without going into details, the main question, that remained unanswered, was: why NOW after all these years - why not sooner? And the villain’s motivations didn’t make sense - how would he know what Mark’s mum held closest to her heart? He’s been away for years! And why didn’t anyone think to check that the villain was dead the first time around? If he’s so dangerous, wouldn’t you want to be sure? 

Isaac Goodhart’s art isn’t bad but it isn’t that memorable either. It’s fine though, I didn’t have any problems with it. 

Postal’s setup is intriguing enough to hold the attention even if there are some problems with the plot once you start thinking about it. That and the ending, which I really didn’t like for being too cutesy, dragged down the book overall. There’s going to be more apparently though I’m not sure if I want to read the next volume especially as this first one was just alright.

Postal, Volume 1

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