The growing financial neoplasm that is my Comixology account has manifested a new symptom. Let’s call it, The Issue One Complex. Every time those creative wizards over at IDW, Image, or Boom put out a new first issue it’s easy to hit that $2.99 button. In a millisecond I have a brand new, white hot narrative glowing on my tablet, just waiting to be cracked open like the Ark of the Covenant.
No wait, no hassle. A weekly chance to melt my face off, on demand.
This week continued the deluge of number ones, once again emptying my wallet. Only one issue was strong enough to grow roots in my pull list. The Squidder. Written and drawn by Ben Templesmith. The brilliant sicko behind 30 Days of Night.
The Squidder takes place about two generations after mankind was subjugated by a race of Gods known as The Squid. Why are they called that? Well…they look like giant flying squids. The whole setting could be best elevator pitched as “Post-Cthulhu.” Think Mad Max saturated with a small town New England horror aesthetic.
Our hero is Mr. Hitchins, one of the last super soldiers called Squidders that mankind developed back when they thought they could stand up to The Squid army. One of the early weaknesses of the book is little is done to characterize Hitchins as anything deeper than just another badass with a giant sword, pistol, and a dead wife. It is a character archetype post-apocalyptic fiction is infested with. Hopefully future issues will add a bit more meat to the character.
But really, Hitchin is just the cart on the rollercoaster ride. As silly as a world ruled by flying squid monster may seem, Templesmith’s delivery of The Squidder’s mythos is melded with its narrative, masking exposition and making me want to know everything about this world ruled by divine seafood. Readers are given enough information to avoid those “okay, what the hell is going on?” moments, all while still feeling like they are joyfully dog paddling in an ocean of mystery.
You never have to wonder if you are picking up a Ben Templesmith book. His art remains one of the most identifiable stiles on the rack. With line art that hits you like a baseball bat to the larynx, and coloring that blooms through each panel, The Squidder holds an aggressive tension to its visuals. The stile has a beauty that has made Templesmith a hallowed name in sequential art, but it has always sacrificed flash for clarity. You always enjoy looking at the art even if you are not always sure what’s going on.
I enjoyed The Squidder partly because it is an allegory for why I love comics. It is an experience that is strange, unexpected, makes no apologies and has no pigeon hole to fit in. It is an unfiltered realization of its creator’s vision and it exists in full awareness of its own warts.
Other books may be “better” this week, but nothing was as interesting as The Squidder.