Thursday, 29 October 2015
"rEVENGER: the Shadow Constabulary" by Warwick Fraser-Coombe. A review.
I am sure you know we've been lied to, by authority, politicians, the media, celebrities, big brands and the companies behind them, by the newsreaders who reach out to us with the knowing glints in their eyes, the dolly-faced bimbos and painted lady-boys who mollify our brains and slowly turn us senile on Saturday night TV. All the time lied to, whilst all the while the world implodes around our ears.
We've been lied to for years, assured that life is great and everything will be fine and as long as you don't complain too much, turn a blind eye to the fact the wealthy are getting richer and the poor becoming more downtrodden, don't rattle the fence, or take things into your own hands, or question the establishment or the way things are done, home or abroad, everything will be okay.
The problem is that the lies are getting harder to swallow and the facts more stretched than the celebrities' faces used to subdue us and addle our brains. We're starting to see through the veneer of the ever slicker politicians, corporate whores and world advocates telling us that everything will be alright.
Because we know it won't be, not unless there is change. Big change. And with this wish for change, we're starting to demand answers. We're starting to demand justice and fair play. We're starting to demand a new type of hero stands up for the minor majority and fights back against this tide of corruption and suppression. The old heroes aren't coming to save us. They never were. They were only ever serving themselves. We no longer want the hero who props up the third leg of the corporate governmental partnership. We want someone who is going to do what needs to be done achieve results for the common man, the ignored, the neglected, the downtrodden - whatever that might involve, whatever the horror that might unleash.
Which brings me to Warwick Fraser-Coombe and his graphic novel "rEVENGER: The Shadow Constabulary."
"rEVENGER" is a costumed vigilante comic book, but it's so much more. If anything, it's a rant against a dumbed down society that looks the other way to the injustices which happen in front of our very eyes.
Roger Blandy, the focus of the book, the 'rEVENGER', is no super hero. He has no innate powers, no heritage of greatness. What he does have is army training, a tour of Basra, a belly full of wrath and a cupboard full of world war two Nazi weaponry amassed by his father at his disposal. Spurred on by personal trauma and time on his hands to consider the injustices of society, he starts a one man war against the drug lords, the rapists, the hardened criminals in the estates around him.
But as his fame and prowess grows, he begins to attract the eye of even more powerful organisations looking to utilise his considerable, if questionable, skills.
What could have become a linear story of someone taking on the bad guys Death Wish style is given credence and depth by the introduction of The Shadow Constabulary, a secret organisation responsible for the termination and control of the shadier parts of the establishment and history. These guys were responsible for assassination of past notorious criminals and killers, the firm handling of unwanted demonstrations amongst the populace in the past, and not so past. Impressed with the rEVENGER's skills, they recruit him into their ranks, in doing so turning him from a modern day Robin Hood into just another blue collar worker, or perhaps that should be red stained collar worker?
However, as this new twist enfolds, you're asked the intriguing question as to whether Blandy, the rEVENGER, is razor sharp in his appreciation of the wickedness of the world, or utterly off his trolly and merely living in a world of make-believe. He keeps saying he is going mad throughout the story, and yet the black envelopes with his 'missions' keep arriving and he seems the sanest and clearest thinking of many of the characters within the book - all this despite the fact he is nothing more than a violent ignorant thug.
Despite his bravo, angry disposition and violent actions, many times we are starkly reminded of the family man that he is, crippled by his losses and the injustices which have affected him. All of which drive him on to do ever more terrible things.
What "rEVENGER" does brilliantly is take the world-known and worn out vigilante story, born from the American Dream its hand firmly pressed to its heart, and kicks it firmly in the nuts. It breaks all the rules, setting a hero impossible to love but impossible to hate at the centre of this grubby tabloid-soiled world and letting him loose.
There are many superb black humour bits within the book. The moment this sadistic hero becomes a 'national treasure', complete with paper copycat masks supplied courtesy of the tabloid press and a fake twitter account attracting 50,000 followers are just two. Blandy, the rEVENGER, can see the madness in the world, and yet his madness drives him yet further into its very heart, and he celebrates by spending his blood money on the finest of cigars that those he takes down themselves smoke. In doing so, is the monster slayer becoming a monster himself?
"rEVENGER: the Shadow Constabulary" is a book that you read with your blood pumping in your ears and your teeth clenched in your skull. It's brutal, it's unrelenting, but it has an immense amount of empathy and heart. Lavishly drawn and coloured, it deserves to be uttered in the same reverend sentences as ground breaking works such as Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns" and Alan Moore's "Watchmen".
You can order directly from the creator on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/warwick.frasercoombe
And discover more about this talented writer and artist here http://www.warwickfrasercoombe.com/ and at http://warwickfrasercoombe.blogspot.co.uk/