Oh #1 comics, how I’ve missed you. The funny thing about putting together comic book shows is you don’t have time to actually read comics. But we’re back and bringing you the debuting comics of the week, just in time to talk about Image Comics’ new series, The Beef.
THE BEEF #1 (of 5)
Story: Richard Starkings, Tyler Shainline
Art: Shaky Kane
Published by: Image Comics
In the 1960’s, Marvel’s Hulk was a character born of a reflection from a society driven by the fear of nuclear weapons. Fifty plus years later, our world is a different place with new fears of little consequence during the Kennedy administration. Today, we’re more afraid of what the processed meat and corn byproduct we put in our own bodies does to us than a nuclear weapon going off. It’s only natural that a new beast emerges illustrated from the fears of mad cow disease and hormones in our food supply. Richard Starkings (Elephantmen) and Tyler Shainline tap into modern fears as they blend the humanity of a classic monster tale with a modern touch of food-obsessed society.
The Beef follows the story of Chuck Carter. A seemingly average slaughterhouse worker in middle of nowhere America. He’s spent his life putting bolts through thousands of cow skulls in order for the country to get its meat supply. Not only do we get an idea that a job as brutal as this has not affected his psyche, we even see Chuck ingest a lifetime of double cheeseburgers. To some, this is a messed up human being or perfectly normal depending on where your world views reside. When happenstance takes hold of our average joe, he’ll find himself transformed into a creature of rage and well… 100% USDA grade beef.
Lots of things in the pages of The Beef are absurdly comic book. That’s meant to be taken in the best way possible. You’ll understand if you can appreciate classic comic book over explanations of the small details such as notes on what the FDA says happens when you ingest too many toxins in your life. As someone who has repressed anger and didn’t eat a vegetable until the age of 21, I relate to Chuck on a certain dietary level. His childhood tragedies and utter assclowns in his town have pushed him to his breaking point and we see it in a huge way.
The book is advertised as a biochemical romance and we’re given hints of it in the form of a sultry possible love interest character the audience is briefly introduced to and played up to a minimum. Making the choice to play up the Jaws style tension of revealing the title monster over hooking every character makes sense but should be remedied in issue two.
Even though Starkings is a capable artist himself, he enlists British psychedelic artist Shaky Kane (The Bulletproof Coffin) for this very American story. While the artwork never quite screams action story in the moments it needs to; the punch comes through in moments of barbarism such as cows getting shot in the head. Kane illustrates those panels in a way that gives them surreal emotion. Turning them from depressing looks at human behavior to a commentary you’d find in The New Yorker. Pay close attention to the eyes in those impact freeze frames. There’s such a looking glass feel to them, almost as if you’re looking right at them just at the moment of death. From a readers perspective, it’s something that adds a layer of deep meaning to the story.
The Beef is shaping up to be an American style gothic romance. A story of a misunderstood beast in a town where the “normal” people are the true monsters. It’s also a book that militantly sticks to its message. While subtlety is key in most tales, The Beef takes a liminal approach to its moral and is better for it. Meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, or monster enthusiast alike will find something to get them into this book. This limited series opening is a savory, well done, piece of meat.
NOTE: We’re not scoring anything, hence why I changed the name of this column. Not just because of my love for a pop-emo band of the early 2000’s.
Here’s your list of #1’s in stores this week:
Debuting Comics For 2/28/18
- Buffy The Vampire Slayer SEASON 11 GILES #1 (DARK HORSE COMICS)
- DOCTOR STAR & KINGDOM LOST TOMORROWS #1 (DARK HORSE COMICS)
- MERA QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1 (DC Comics)
- TERRIFICS #1 (DC Comics)
- GI JOE VS SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN #1 (IDW)
RICK VEITCH THE ONE #1 (IDW)
- LOCKJAW #1 (Marvel)
- ALISIK FALL #1 (TITAN Comics)
- CULT CLASSIC RETURN TO WHISPER #1 (Vault Comics)
- JIM HENSON LABYRINTH #1 (BOOM! Studios)
- KISS AOD #1 (DYNAMITE)
- SHRUGGED VOL 3 #1 (ASPEN Comics)
WILDS #1 (Black Mask Studios)