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‘Courage:’ Graphic Novel Review

Relaxed fit jeans.

That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think about my first reading of Courage, Dino Caruso’s “lived-in-feel” series that was finally released in its entirety on Red King Comics.

It is a four-part story that is really well written, skillfully drawn, and well plotted, but it feels like those Levi’s that, even when you put them on for the first time, weren’t stiff or rough . . . they were just right.

Relaxed fit jeans.

Courage (which is also the name of the lead character) is an homage to old-time comics and old-time characters.  And, it is a love letter to the fans of that early genre that presented characters as heroes with just a hint of backstory.  It also recognizes that hero stories of yesterday were far less complicated than those that we read today.  Simple origins and limited characters were how comic books were kept on “canon.”

But, Courage isn’t a simple character, nor is his world or backstory.  It just looks it.  And, that is the real fun of this story.  Excellent writing by Caruso and stark, simple, and razor-sharp, black-and-white drawing from Paul Houston combine a subtle wit with regular recognition of a timeless art to bring a fun story to print.

We are introduced to Courage as he is looking to return to crime fighting.  He has scores to settle and rights to wrong. Even this simple character introduction, and that of an old friend/foe/flame called Hurricane, is swimming in homage, as the two meet up in a bad guy dive bar called “Rogues Gallery.”

What follows is great banter, fighting bad guys, and a story that starts fun and stays true.  And, a beautiful-looking book, which isn’t something you would normally say about a comic done totally in black and white.  But, the throwback nature of the story – it really feels set in the Golden Age – makes the lack of color work.  The art from Houston is strong, and the lack of color emphasizes his skills.

I’m not going to spoil the story for you . . . but I can tell you that you are going to want to add it to your collection.  It belongs.

Like relaxed fit jeans.

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