Bludgeon #0

Description (from burlypress.com):
This issue follows Mike as he is arriving in Albuquerque. He stumbles upon a coffee shop called “Burial Grounds”, in which he meets a very over-enthusiastic barista by the name of Alice. After which, he gets ready to start his investigations. It offers an introduction to the character, as well as hints at bits and pieces of the world and story to come.

Credits:
Written & Drawn by Jeremy Owen
Editor & Story Collaborator Greg Freeland III
Pinup Art by Andrew Mark

BLUDGEON #0 is not your average comic book, and Bludgeon is not your average hero!  This is apparent right from page one, before actually, as on the cover of B#0 we are told that in this issue Bludgeon will face “The Oversharing Barista,” which is a far removed bad guy from the super villains of Marvel or DC.  Also, with a name like “Bludgeon” –which can be a noun meaning “a short heavy club with one end weighted, or thicker and heavier than the other” or a verb meaning “to strike or knock down with a bludgeon” – you know this character is not going to be the everyman-good-guy like Peter Parker or Clark Kent that has been so popular for years in the realm of comics.

While the “everyman-good-guy” has been a common trope in comics, the last few decades have been more partial to the “not-so-good-good-guy,” the comic hero that struggles with not crossing the line from good to bad; not beating that criminal to a bloody pulp, just subduing them long enough for the police to show up and do their thing.  So Bludgeon is not necessarily that far removed of a comic hero, if you were just basing his difference on his name / weapons of choice.  With the many troubled heroes out there, what’s different about Bludgeon?  I can’t say I remember reading any comics with a Bear as a hero.

Yes, granted, there are gay characters in the comic world.  There are.  They just usually aren’t the MAIN character (except in Japan); the LGBT heroes are usually more minor members of a group, or lesser non-hero characters.  B#0 introduces a main, lead character that is not only gay, but also a Bear, a specific subculture within the gay culture.  This isn’t that surprising if you pay a little attention: Burly Press produces B #0… and “Burly” is the perfect adjective for your average Bear.

Now, for the non-Bear, non-gay comic reader, is B#0 still a relevant comic?  Is it still a good read?  YES.  In the issue, Mike aka Bludgeon is mistakenly hit on by a female barista, to whom he has to explain that she is “Just barking up the wrong tree.”  While Bludgeon is most certainly gay, he is not flashy or flamboyant, he is just who he is.  B#0 is the same; while it is most certainly about a gay character, it is not flashy or flamboyant – the “gayest” part of the whole issue is a shower scene, and if you’re straight and squeamish no worries: there are no penciled penises here!  Truthfully though, if you are that “squeamish,” you probably stopped reading when Bludgeon came out on page 15.

B#0 is the background issue, the introduction to the character and the universe he inhabits.  That universe is a great mix of reality and hyper-reality; the issue starts with Bludgeon arriving on the bus to Albuquerque.  He arrives at the Alvarado Transit Center, and proceeds to walk up Central to Nob Hill, passing local landmarks like The Guild (which just so happens to be showing a locally produced Albuquerque film, THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED), and arriving at the not-real coffee shop, Burial Ground.  Within the zombie-themed café are more real items, like the local Albuquerque paper The Alibi, and a poster for the non-Albuquerque flick ROBOT BASTARD.  It’s nice to see a comic set in a real city, not some random made-up metropolis; it’s especially satisfying if you are familiar with Albuquerque and can see how right-on it is.

Besides differentiating itself through the non-standard character, and the decidedly (mostly) real-world setting, B#0 also sets itself apart from your every-day comic through its art style.  Jeremy’s art is not comic-book-y; his style has more of a flat, comic-strip feel to it.  Bludgeon is still a muscled super hero, but in keeping with the Bear style, he’s got a bit of a gut to him.  The art combines heavy marker-like outlines with precise pen lines for the finer details.  It is a very accessible, non-intimidating art style; by that I mean: a lot of comic books are full of rippling, bulging, über-muscled heroes in the most tight of tight, might-as-well-be-painted-on latex suits, but Bludgeon is strong without being a muscle-upon-muscle body builder, and his costume is much more “regular” than most.  There are no super-skin-tight shenanigans here.  Also, Jeremy has a great eye for composition; he uses off-kilter angles and different panel layouts to give the comic a very “cinematic” feel.  Maybe one day I’ll be here reviewing BLUDGEON: THE MOVIE.

B#0 also has a bit more comic strip feel because of the fact that it is humorous.  It is not a comedy – it is not an actual Sunday funny type strip – but there are humorous moments, which a lot of super hero stories shy away from.  Jeremy is able to weave them within the story, adding the element of humor without making B#0 a straight up comedy.  The story also works well to hook the reader… why is Bludgeon here in Albuquerque?  What is it that he is looking for, and has traveled so far to find?  There are many more questions than answers in B#0, which is a great way to start a long-term story.

Overall, I really enjoyed B#0.  The story, while lacking any action at all in this set-up issue, drew me in and made me want to continue reading the series.  The art was a welcome change from the ordinary comic book fodder.  And the fact that Bludgeon is a Bear cements the idea that this will be a comic unlike any I’ve ever seen.  I can’t wait to read BLUDGEON #1!

Overall 8 / 10

BLUDGEON site: http://www.burlypress.com

BLUDGEON for sale: http://www.burlypress.com/store.html

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