Revenger & The Fog (#1 – 4) – Charles Forsman

3 out of 5

The pulpy Revenger got down to its weird business with a lot of fists a’ flyin’ from its outset.  It wasn’t very ‘deep,’ but that certainly wasn’t the point, and the grindhouse sensibility it was presumably going for was achieved, page after page.  To his credit, Charles Forsman isn’t just rejiggering his template for the Revenger and the Fog mini-series; instead, he’s shifted his late-night TV vibe to a slightly different genre: Something slightly more in the horror vibe, with a revenge flick sense of dreck dripping off the edges.  Which should still be a great match, but by peeling back the fighting, we’re left to focus on characters and story, which aren’t as visually or narratively compelling in this outing.

Things start off somewhat misleadingly, though: The book is named after a team of ‘revengers’ of sorts, and we join them mid-battle for issue one, with title cards and single page intros and the whole deal.  It’s a pretty fantastic smash-up of team books and B-movie.  Jamming a lesbian relationship in there obviously increases the tribute nod to the latter, as does 70s setting.  But the “team” thing dissolves almost right away, and then we get wrapped up in a rescue mission: The non-Revenger half of the aforementioned relationship, Jenny, has been kidnapped by her father, for pretty out there (and again, dreck-dripping) reasons, and the story arranges it such that only Revenger is doing the revenging.  So much for The Fog.

Forsman’s attempts at putting all of this genre stuff in place is admirable, as is the way he just sort of goes for the sweaty, no-budget film look.  His rough drawing style, with a lot of forced perspectives and loose figure work, definitely matches the approach, as well as the phenomenal color-work, with a lot of juxtaposed neons.  But it’s more of a churn this time.  Instead of the comic getting you in the right state of mind with its energy, you sort of have to already be there, willing to swill in the mire.  Otherwise the generally unlikable characters and sleazy setup fall flat.

That being said, the mini-series still has some fantastic high points, and at important milestones, like the beginning and end.  When some dark humor comes in during books 3 and 4, it gets closer to a smoother, less abrasive version of things (without sacrificing any of that sweatiness – the writing just seems slightly more aware of itself and its audience at those points), which suggest a book like this might settle into some great riffs if given an ongoing attempt.

Revenger and The Fog smartly doesn’t try to repeat the same tricks of what came before, but Charles Forsman’s slight genre shift occasionally misfires during these four issues.