Monday, 23 May 2016

Jacked Review (Eric Kripke, John Higgins)

Josh Jaffe is a middle-aged recently laid-off father of two who can’t find employment. What he has got though is a bad knee, bad back, acid reflux, a receding hairline and trouble in the sack. His wife works as a makeup artist on a superhero TV show, just about keeping their heads above water. Josh’s brother sees him stuck in a rut and gives him a special new energy pill, Jacked, to help him out. Except now Josh suddenly has super-strength/hearing/focus. But superheroes aren’t real… are they? 

Jacked is Supernatural creator Eric Kripke’s first comic and it’s really good! The tone of the comic is very real - Kripke recently went through a midlife crisis of his own so it feels very honest - and that coupled with the humour is what makes this ordinary-guy-gets-superpowers story really stand out. 

This one reminded me of classic ‘90s Vertigo books, partially because it’s drawn by John Higgins (Hellblazer) with covers by Glenn Fabry (Preacher), but also the explicit subject matter - gory violence, sex, drugs, swearing and the sardonic worldview - felt like Garth Ennis’ style (or even Wanted-era Mark Millar). That’s definitely a good thing as the ‘90s was Vertigo’s heyday. 

Josh doesn’t go down the usual superhero route of saving the city/world or even many members of the public once he gets his powers. Instead Kripke sends him down a more personal plotline involving his family and neighbours and that smaller scale definitely helps tighten the story and develop the main cast of characters more deeply. That Josh’s main aim is to get his son to look up to him again shows the comic has a lot of heart - I’m sure a lot of dads reading this book will relate. 

I wasn’t crazy about it but John Higgins’ art is decent, if looking a bit dated, and I liked the creative hallucination sequences. And Jacked may not have the most original premise - it’s Limitless with a superhero slant - especially with the fight back against the gangsters being done any number of times before, but it’s still a strong telling of a familiar story. It’s always fun seeing a likeable ordinary schlub react in an extraordinary situation.

Jacked is an exciting and entertaining read and one of the few recent Vertigo titles worth seeking out. Get some!


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