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‘The Paybacks #3:’ Advance Comic Book Review

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

I have to say I’m very impressed with the team at Dark Horse who put this book together.  It’s an absolutely silly idea that, in the wrong hands, could have been banal and derivative, and yet this work sings in a way that just puts a smile on my face.  Playing with an underlying Nihilism and some excellent gallows humor, this issue allows Skisquatch to shine, and he’s very quickly become one of my favorite characters in any series today.  The twists and turns of this story continue to breath life into this weird, little title, and with the subtle callouts to tropes at large in the medium, this is a fun and gentle satire that has enough of an emotional core to elevate it to become something really interesting.

Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal must be a riot to work with.  This book has the feel of that new LEGO game, where anything and absolutely everything can work together, like Morgan Freeman playing Gandalf with Batman.  There’s a childlike joy at the heart of this twisted, bloody spoof, and it makes the characters rise above their imprints to remind you why you fell in love with their established counterparts in the first place.  This book is a good reminder that the word “comic” comes first, with righteous missions going off the rails because of a wonderfully timed gag, and the resulting clustermuck resolves itself into something resembling victory.

If Cates and Rahal are having fun, then Geoff Shaw must be just giggling all day.  He’s giving all of the characters a lot of flash, attitude, and making them all serious bad@$$es when taking care of business, while allowing the tone of the script to remain wonderful and joyous.  Seriously, Popsicle Club seems like the most awesome club there is. (You’ll see.)  Colorful and twisted when necessary, everything comes alive in a great way, especially when tracking random characters over the main action.  I think the warehouse is going to continuously be my favorite place, and I can’t wait to see what he tosses in there next.  The thing I appreciate a good deal is the portrayal of violence; it’s not over the top,it’s not something that everyone can walk away from with a grunt or a wise-crack, people get seriously messed up or dead, and that truth of the violence, letting this world be as dangerous as ours, is a really refreshing attitude to see on the page.  Yeah, there are still over-the-top explosions and such, but the intimate stuff – the kind of things that would do lasting and painful damage to a person – are presented realistically, and even when the intent is humor, there’s a sense that this is no game, and the stakes are high.

A fun diversion from the seriousness of storyline continuity and dour heroes, The Paybacks is a series that will tickle and excite any comic fan. There’s so much at play here that really anyone could find something to enjoy.  And, if you like Skips, then Skisquatch is the wise-cracking, but serious, cousin you’ll really get a kick out of.

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