Monday, 2 May 2016

Revenger, Volume 1: Children of the Damned by Charles Forsman Review

She travels a broken United States helping the weak and exploited through extreme violence. If you have a problem and no-one else can help, and if you can find her, maybe you can hire… Revenger! 

I love it when a comic comes together. Charles Forsman’s Revenger is brilliant! It has the intensity of Garth Ennis’ Punisher MAX, the imaginative visuals of Matt Fraction/David Aja’s Hawkeye, and a well-executed similar story to Max Allan Collins’ Road to Perdition (minus the son). There’s also some Death Wish and T2 mixed in there too. How good does all that sound?! Don’t bother with the rest of this review, go find this comic immediately! 

Like all good action stories, Children of the Damned is straightforward and hits the ground running: in a small Californian town, a young man’s girlfriend is missing and he asks Revenger for help. She accepts and tracks the girlfriend down to a brothel where she and other kidnapped girls are being held as sex slaves to a gangster who has the police in his pocket. Revenger enlists the help of the outcasts of society in standing up to the corrupt cops and mobsters - lots and lots of violence ensues! 

Forsman’s previous comics, Celebrated Summer and The End of the Fucking World (both highly recommended), are as compelling as Revenger but this is the first time I’ve seen him draw action, and he handles it superbly. There’s a really cool Oldboy-esque sequence where Revenger uses a hammer to take on hired goons and that opening scene where she’s fighting clowns with a baseball bat is both awesome and funny (the latter purely because it’s a scene that comes out of nowhere and has no connection to anything). The action throughout flows smoothly so you can easily follow the beats in a scene and it’s exciting to see as well. 

The story is really well-paced and structured so that the stakes are slowly raised with each stage and it gets increasingly more intense as it builds to the finale. You’re never unclear on what’s happening in the story and, while there’s no doubt as to whether Revenger will succeed, it’s completely engrossing, both of which are marks of a good storyteller. 

These aren’t the most complex characters Forsman has written - we catch glimpses of Revenger’s past, not much but just enough to understand her devil-may-care attitude - though you can tell them apart and understand their motivations. It’s important not to take that for granted as too few comics creators are able to keep their cast from blurring into one indistinct mass with the same voice. But Forsman is the full package, a comics creator who can write and draw so well. 

Revenger is an indie comic but it has the mainstream sensibilities to appeal to a much broader market. If you like the unstoppable forces of righteous fury that are The Punisher or Michael O’Sullivan in Road to Perdition, or just want to read a really good action/revenge comic, Revenger is a definite must-read! I had a blast with this book, it was great, violent, adult fun - Charles Forsman proving again that he is a creator to follow.

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