Writer(s): Ken Krekeler
Artist Name(s): Ken Krekeler
Cover Artist(s): Ken Krekeler
Variant cover Ken Krekeler
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Synopsis: Tom Ferris has started seeing the world differently. As colorful heroes shine for all to see,
Tom’s new friends have revealed a different path; a path where he’s free to express himself–where he
can embrace who he should have been, instead of who he is. And the world turns, waiting.
32 pgs./ FC/ Mature Readers $3.99
Tom Ferris is a complicated man, as you may well know if you’ve read Dry Spell #1, a comic by artist and writer Ken Krekeler, published by Action Lab Comics.
Simply put Ferris is a man in crisis. Having retired from the super-villain game some years ago, he now wanders, rather aimlessly, through a life of redundancy. And that is a big part of the appeal of this book. It’s visceral depiction of the mundane life of the average middle-American and the everyday interactions that grate at Ferris’ soul. Krekeler does a great job of contrasting that, both artistically and through dialogue, with the almost limitless possibilities of the life of the superhuman, whether hero or heel.
Issue #2 opens on a Saturday, with Tom listening to Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” a sort of anthem to resiliency and perfectly fitting for our villain-as-protagonist in the making. Krekeler does an excellent job of allowing the reader into Ferris’ head, through some arresting artwork on the first few pages that depict, in several panels, Ferris alone, naked, and wrapped in a blanket in front of a blank canvas. Uninspired and dejected, you can feel his angst, taste his desperation for what once was.
At a company dinner party the next day, his seemingly mild disapproval of Apollo, a major superhero in the series, becomes the topic of conversation. Ferris is reluctant to share his views, despite persistent cajoling from his girlfriend Stacy Whitman, and some friends from work.
Through the dinner party’s snarky quips and mundane exchanges, it becomes evident that Ferris sees Apollo’s unwavering sense of purpose as a threat to his own self-imposed exile from super-villainy. If the hero can get up and do it day in, day out, why can’t he, Tom Ferris, the once and powerful Black Baron, do the same?
It is this singular question, though never literally phrased, that consumes Ferris. The rest of the book is no less gripping, as Tom wrestles with and finally succumbs to his darker impulses. He is approached by former lover/partner-in-crime Nightingale; she delivers a persuasive (and impressive) monologue on Tom’s storied past and his future potential, an inspiring call to again paint the canvas of the world with madness and mayhem, the unfettered expressive tools of the artist, er, villain.
Though the villain-as-protagonist theme has almost been done to death in recent years, most depictions have been done in a flippant manner, focused more on the humanity of the villain, as an attempt to make audiences more sympathetic toward them. Krekeler takes this notion and spins it on it’s head, suggesting that the super-villain profession, like that of the tragic hero, is a calling, and that only a few are chosen to carry on the tradition. He may be on to something.
Review by: Adam Cadmon
Follow Adam on Twitter: @K1NG_OF_J4CKS