Images & Words – Revolver
[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]
Life can be humdrum. Boring to tears. Drab. For most of us, daily living is comprised of compromises and lackluster recesses of escapism. Existence can often seem like a set of meaningless tasks, more of a bogus journey than any sort of excellent adventure.
Is buying a couch really that enthralling?
Just the other day, a friend of mine was talking to me about the mind-numbing and uninspiring nature of modern life. Then, with earnestness, he started to describe just how great it would be to live during the End Times. He seemed keen on a zombie apocalypse, but would settle for any sort of societal collapse. Liberation is to be found in survivalism, he told me.
I disagreed. I had just finished reading The Stand. And not unlike Lord of the Flies, Stephen King’s epic taught me that civilization can be pretty rad. Overbearing hierarchies and rigid systems of control? Complete chaos? No. But having some sort of order is a good idea. Can a shade of gray exist in which personal empowerment is actualized?
This very struggle is the premise of Matt Kindt’s graphic novel Revolver.
Sam, the hero of this tale, is dissatisfied. His girlfriend is superficial beyond redemption. His job sucks. His boss makes his life miserable. Nothing is going his way.
But then he goes to sleep at 11:11PM and when he wakes up, he’s in the midst of an apocalypse. Terrorist attacks have decimated cities, plagues are spreading across the globe, natural disasters are underway — real wrath of God type stuff! Cities have erupted into bedlam and even instituting martial law has done little to quell the disorder. However, with death being an imminent possibility, Sam learns to appreciate his life and use it to the fullest.
Unfortunately, he once again falls asleep at 11:11PM; upon waking this time, he has been transported back to his mundane life. Of course, inner-conflict ensues. This “normal” life is much safer than the alternate reality Sam just experienced, as dirty-bombs and bird diseases are left out of the equation. With that being said, there’s also no sense of purpose here. Sam doesn’t understand why he should care about dinner with his girlfriend’s parents or appeasing his snobby boss or investing himself in any of the other truly inconsequential activities we fill our lives with.
And so Revolver takes the reader through alternating days of two different realities; one overly tedious and lacking passion, one which is brimming with vigor but threatening to implode at any moment. Kindt does a superb job of balancing the realities, highlighting the perks of both as well as their inherent defects. Moreover, the story really comes together when it’s revealed that the realities aren’t quite as separate as originally thought.
Fugg, I feel like I haven’t included enough titillating plot elements. A list: murder, shoot-outs, secret newspapers, terrorist masterminds, hideouts, sex, satellite-guided missiles, and swear-infested diatribes. Other stuff, too.
On top of this phenomenal writing, Kindt’s art is no eyesore. With limited use of color, the artist clearly identifies which reality the reader is peeking into (bluish for normal//reddish for apocalypse). The line art is somewhat simple, but expressive enough to put a real humanity into the characters. I’m guessing that this simplicity was consciously summoned, as the artist’s portfolio demonstrates a prowess in more complex styles. Nevertheless, what he’s doing works.
More than the art itself, I was particularly taken with Revolver’s manipulation of form. To me, these deviations are not for their own sake but actually help generate the atmosphere and tone of the piece. Page numbers, for instance, are integrated into running newsfeeds at the bottom of the page; of course, different realities value different events. An example:
THREE MAJOR NETWORKS ARE REPORTING INCREASES IN VIEWERS IN THE 28-35 AGE GROUP, WHICH IS VITAL TO ADVERTISING
GENERATOR POWER IN THE NORTH IS BELIEVED TO BE THE CAUSE OF OVER 35 DEATHS AS BITTER TEMPERATURES BEGIN
Also, the paneled pages are occasionally halted; in their place, textual pages such as a newsletter or an advertisement are tossed in. Again, this might sound gimmicky but is actually executed in with genuine sentiment. Lastly, there are a few instances in which Sam’s narrative boxes are put over comics or movies, creating a story-within-a-story structure.
Am I sucker for such devices? Yes. But I also think that I’m self-aware enough to know when they’re used in good taste.
So what can I complain about? Well, not much. My only point of concern is that Revolver costs $25US — and I’m not really sure what the exchange is for Ameros. With that being said, the book is a full graphic novel (about 170 pages) and is wrapped in a hardcover. I don’t mind tossing Kindt the cash, but I’d feel like a real b-hole if I didn’t give you a heads-up.
Revolver didn’t come out this week. Nor is it a single issue. But it is fugging awesome and you would be doing yourself a favor to give it a read.