Images & Words – Choker #2

Choker 2

[images & words is the comic book pick-of-the-week at OL. equal parts review and diatribe, the post highlights the most memorable/infuriating/entertaining book released that wednesday]

Spoilers Ahead. Forreal.

The second issue of Choker has hit stands and my nerd-tummy is churning and bubbling… With excitement! The first issue pushed the reader right into Shotgun City, the neo-slum that makes Blade Runner’s Los Angeles step back and say, “Hrm…Maybe I’m not so ugly. Let’s go buy jeans so the boys notice our butts!” Alongside, Detective Johnny Jackson, the reader is thrust into a search for Hunt Cassidy, the sociopathic drug dealer referred to as a prince among bastards.

As one would expect, the narrative continue to develop in this new installment. Jackson is still down on his luck, the bad guy is still at large, and Shotgun City is still a shithole. But we’re starting to get glimpses into the reality of the terror at hand, realizing just how worse for the wear the cast of characters are.

For instance…the black glove on Jackson’s left hand? It slips off while he’s sleeping to reveal a mangled, disgusting mess. A mangled, disgusting mess that grabs a gun and tries to shoot the hero until he can stab it with a sedative. Shit’s bizarre/I fucking loves it.

This second issue of the McCool/Templesmith collaboration also introduces a saucy female partner for Johnny Jackson. Her name is Kara Thrace. Whoops, my bad! I mean to say that her name is Walker. But really, if you’re familiar with BSG’s resident lady-badass, then you certainly know Walker. When we first meet Starbuck, she’s drinking space-booze and trading insults with the boys. When we meet Walker, she’s smoking a butt and telling another officer that she’d “rather be molested by clowns” than sleep with him. Starbuck asserts herself, punching Tigh in the mouth and proving that a man can’t keep her down. In place of fuzzy dice, Walker hangs her ex-husband’s nutsack from her rearview mirror. Oh, and they both have short blond hair, personality-defying good looks, and a sick jacket.

But don’t think I’m complaining. Because the fact is that sometimes using tried-and-true archetypes works. Walker is the tough-as-nails woman that Johnny Jackson is going to have to deal with. And, in a not uncommon twist, Walker is working for the slimeball that hired Jackson back in the first place. So we have to spend some time trying to figure out who exactly this femme fatale is going to play — her new partner, her corrupt boss, both of them? Again, standard crime story fare, but it’s working!

Once again, Templesmith’s art is the absolute fucking balls. His line art is top-notch, but it’s his work with tones and colors that elevate Choker to the plateau of visual ecstasy. As I read the comic, I find myself feeling as though I’m lost in some sort of bleak neon nightmare. There is a general gloominess afoot, and the occasional splashes of light are only used to sparingly highlight an impending horror. Take, as an example, the first splash, in which a pack of hillbilly cannibals reveal themselves from the shadows — only their ravenous, drooling faces receive full color.

In terms of visual structure, it’s worth noting that dark gray ink clouds often stretch themselves across the page. Effectively, this helps to blur the otherwise rigid divisions between panels. So while the paneled sequence remains clear to the reader, a subtle sense of narrative obfuscation is presented. Which is useful, considering that Choker is a crime-mystery, slowly revealing itself over the course of six issues.

I’m not exactly sure where Choker is leading. But I’m going to follow.


Warren Ellis — I want you to read this shit and look at the sexy art. And then I want you to take your beautiful, fish’n’chips snatching fingers and put them to a keyboard. And then, I want you to finish Fell.