Images & Words – Choker #1


[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]

Sometimes impulse purchases work out for the best. Other times, they don’t. This week, I’d like to share a story in which tossing down four bucks for an unfamiliar product ended up being a good idea.

A damn good idea.

Just like every Wednesday, I walked into the comic book store looking forward to snagging all sorts of goofy shit. Again, I know how ludicrous these books can be, but anticipating their release helps get me through the week. Reading them, on the other hand, helps me forget about the week altogether. Clearly, it’s a marriage made in Escapist Heaven. So it goes without saying, I picked up all of my favorite books that feature body builders with super powers, mind-numbing exposition and overly-sexualized women.

In addition to this mindrot, I also snagged Choker #1. Originally slated for release two weeks ago, the first issue of this six-part series comes out swinging. What we find out in this first issue is that over-the-hill private investigator Johnny Jackson is finally being offered a chance to regain his position on the city’s police force. Of course, this means he must appease the insidious chief of police by tracking down Hunt Cassidy, the man he locked up years ago.

Does this seem like another Crime Story Paint by Numbers? Sure. But Choker pulls it off, setting the story in the quasi-dystopian Shotgun City. Perhaps taking a page out of Spider Jerusalem’s playbook, Jackson has these kind words to say about his city:

Jesus. This place stinks worse than my office.

Devo-fucking-lution, how we’ve embrace you.

We’re living in one big melting pot of futility and folly, and somehow it continues to flourish.

There’s not a thing I can do about it.

Not anymore.

Mutiny has ravaged the ship and we’re slowly sinking. Not even the sharks will want to eat us.

Maybe I’m a sucker for a pessimistic, pissed-at-the-world detective. Maybe I think it’s an archetype I’ll always fall for. Maybe I just wish I could be one myself (a detective that is).


And while writer Ben McCool’s script certainly places Choker within the world of interesting narrative, it’s artist Ben Templesmith that cannon-launches it onto Mount Bad Ass Comic Book. This guy has done a ton of sick shit, such as 30 Days of Night and Warren Ellis’ (unfortunately delayed) Fell. However, I really think that Templesmith is upping the ante with his new series, and the readers are going to reap all the benefits.

Thus far, the artwork of Choker is nothing short of inspiring. Templesmith’s neat & tidy approach to panel layout keeps the story moving without the necessity of pausing to ask What the fuck is going on? With that being said, the contents of these panels are quite atmospheric in nature, creating a dark world that always seems to be clouded over. Templesmith then creates a balance, as he paints Shotgun City with vibrant neon colors. As a result, he generates a sharp urban contrast between progression and regression that harkens back to Bladerunner.

Choker #1 has proven to be the best four-dollar investment I have blindly made this week (and yes, I’ve made a few). Even without any text, this book would be worth your cash money. In a way, the fact that the story McCool has begun to unveil is actually rad, well that’s just icing on the cake.