You’re an angry elf.
In reference to that fine holiday film, imagine if instead of Peter Dinklage merely kicking Will Ferrell’s a$%, he tied him to a wall with his own entrails and methodically removed bits of his anatomy, a la Ramsey Snow (Bolton, for you show watchers). Oh, and both of those people were drawn and motivated by the sadist who’s responsible for The Goon. And, it had the backing of social justice taken with a near unholy vengeance. Merry Christmas.
On one of the last pages of this collection, we’re treated to a text between Eric Powell and Tim Wiesch that begat this whole horror show (just in case my tone’s unclear, that’s meant as a good thing), where the idea of Big Man Plans was born from a hashtag (I suppose something good had to come of them someday. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to go sit on my porch and yell at the neighbor kids.) that would fit the idea of “adulting.” (Get of my lawn!) From this innocuous exchange, these two degenerates built an angry man with a solid moral structure who endures incredible physical and psychic pain in the pursuit of doing the “right thing” (if by “right” you mean the same kind of treatment that made Ellen Page famous in Hard Candy). This is certainly Powell’s M.O., and Wiesch seems to only encourage the insanity. This kind of anti-hero is very satisfying to read and has some phenomenal one-liners that only slightly mitigate the horror. Unlike The Goon which had its bevy of crude gallows humor, Big Man has no joy in his tiny, rage-filled body. The ultimate expression in hardline non-compromise, this is a story of resolution as much as redemption. Add in the fact that we have a question throughout most of the book that can be summed up as “Why, dear god, is this happening?” and the slow mystery of it is rewarded very well in the final pages. It drives us through the awful scenes of death and dismemberment that it wrought.
Powell takes on the artwork on his own, and though the focus is smaller than I’m used to with him, his very unique and graphic style is on display well. Powell has no fear of putting his characters through the grinder and always manages to use it to highlight the inner beauty of their conviction and moral purity. Much like George R.R. Martin, it seems that Powell has an affinity for the broken and cast aside things, and there’s a beauty to what he does. I promise, look past the grisly bones sticking out of odd places and the burnt and charred skin and you’ll see it. Anyone for BBQ? Anyway, it’s good to see Powell flexing his devastating combat muscles a bit here, as well. The Goon is a big buy who just punches things to death, but Big Man is small and has to use leverage and a righteous nut punch to bring his foes down to size. I’ve been shocked and surprised by Powell’s art before, but this was the first time I have been truly disturbed by it. A knife to the eye is great when Frankie’s got his head in a rubber chicken, but this much darker tone makes everything very real. It’s the kind of violent imagery that to me feels more like a condemnation that a celebration, and even though Big Man seems to be having fun, the pressure of what has brought him to this place makes the experience one to talk about.
There’s a lot to love in this collection, and fans of these gentlemen will be truly pleased and surprised by the content within. There’s a lot of social commentary here, and it’s smart enough to raise some questions within the reader. At its core, this is a dark gallows comedy that for me seems to be a great blend of entertainment, pathos, and thought-provoking commentary. Check out this title that earns its maturity in more than one way.