Title: Insufferable (ongoing weekly)
Writer: Mark Waid
“Cover”: Peter Kause
Art: Peter Krause
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterers: Troy Peteri
Published by www.Thrillbent.com
Reviewed by Grim_Noir
Hey, Kids! What if I told you that you could have a FREE comic book? And what if I told you that you could get another one EVERY single week for the foreseeable future? And what if I told you that book was written by Mark Waid? THEN, what if I told you that this comic book was available digitally for ANY DEVICE?
Well, if you’re me, your BVDs look like a Jackson Pollock and your head is between your knees breathing slowly into a paper bag. It’s all for naught, however: Once you see the first few pages online, you’re going to pass out anyway.
Because Mark Waid and his business partner, television producer John Rodger’s site, Thrillbent, is truly something special. Waid believes that digital comics are the future and has put his money where his mouth is. Whether you chose the downloadable CBZ or PDF files or read it directly from the site, the “pages” positively dance in front of you.
The frame set-up is “widescreen,” first of all, so everything fits on the screen and has the feel of a cinematic event. Secondly, Waid & company understand that this is an online comic. They did not scan a comic book and reformat it. The files are somewhere between a standard scan and a motion comic: panels change, facial expressions transform, and secrets are revealed at the click of a mouse. This could have given the storytelling a certain “slight-of-hand” feel, but Waid and his former Irredeemable artist, Peter Krause, handle this narrative flow with the wink-and-a-nod of an internet Penn & Teller.
Start with the short story, Luthor. This will not only give you a feel for what Thrillbent is all about visually, but it is decent story in its own right. In a handful of pages, Waid out-Kirkmans Robert Kirkman by taking the Dawson’s Creek out of The Walking Dead while injecting the zombie genre with hopefulness like it hasn’t seen since the end of Shawn of the Dead.
If you’re “all in” at that point, move on to the main event: Waid’s and Krause’s Insufferable. I have described this book to friends as Batman and Nightwing in the movie The War of the Roses. Fortunately, Mr. Waid’s own words at the 2012 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo explain it much more eloquently:
“It’s about what happens when you have a [kid] sidekick who grows up to be a completely ungrateful, self-aggrandizing douchebag of a man who will not shut up about how much of a genius he is and how the world is a better place now that you guys are broken up because now he can do it all the way he wanted to do it. Then the story is, what is the one case that comes up where they have to put their heads together even though they have been broken apart for years and they hate each other? What is the one case that could bring them back together again?”
What case, indeed? One that involves a violent supervillian who is rounding up all of our protagonists’ (Nocturnus’ and [Kid] Galahad’s) rogues gallery to form a gang. Simultaneously, he is using his knowledge of our heroes’ past to play them against each other. And their already mutual distain for each other’s methods doesn’t help things.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious writer-crush on Mark Waid. He has successfully written every character you can name for almost every comic publisher. The key to his success is in his characterizations and Insufferable is no exception. At first, you might think, “This is obviously the Batman and Nightwing archetypes, why didn’t he just write a Batman and Nightwing tale?” But, in very short order, you realize that the unique backstory and relationship he has created for Nocturnus and Galahad would have been impossible to tell with all the prior lore in which Batman and Nightwing are steeped.
I had a discussion with Bodhi Zen this past summer about how sometimes the investment of time is a higher cost than you are willing to pay for an item. However, in the case of Waid’s Thrillbent website, the investment of time yields serious dividends. Consider this little tip my Holiday gift to you.
Happy Holidays, everyone! I’ll talk at ya again in the New Year!
Tags: batman, Bodhi Zen, Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Galahad, Grim_Noir, Insufferable, Irredeemable, Jackson Pollock, John Rodger, Luthor, Mark Waid, Nightwing, Nocturnus, Penn & Teller, Peter Krause, Robert Kirkman, Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead, The War of the Roses, Thrillbent