Saturday, 5 August 2017

Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver Review

Joe is Noah Van Sciver’s typical working class loser protagonist (literally an “Average Joe”). Working as a waiter at a local pizza joint, Joe struggles to make rent money while dealing with being a husband and father, neither of which he’s mentally prepared to be at 28 years old - he’s clearly still a manchild looking to party, screw around, etc. The pressure builds, his drinking spirals out of hand and things come to a head when his meth-ed out mother-in-law comes to stay in their crappy apartment. 

Unlike most of Van Sciver’s comics, I didn’t love Saint Cole but it wasn’t bad either. It’s always morbidly interesting to see someone’s life implode and the story has dramatic tension as Joe’s drinking increases and his already-shaky frame of mind begins to unravel faster and faster. But, aside from the final page, it’s a fairly predictable and mundane tale of a desperate fuckup that Van Sciver’s done better and more memorably before, most notably in 1999 which has a similar protagonist/story. 

The ending is definitely surprising and unexpected but also far too abrupt, underwhelming and unsatisfying. Van Sciver’s art is fine as always but he’s not doing anything especially different from his other comics and it remains a firmly secondary aspect to his writing. 

There was enough to Saint Cole to keep me more-or-less entertained though it’s definitely not one of Van Sciver’s more compelling books. It doesn’t have a gripping story or a unique character portrait, it generally feels like a retread of older material, and I wasn’t sure what he was aiming for. Still, it’s not a bad comic either and Noah Van Sciver fans will probably get something out of it.

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