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May 28, 2013

Image Comics Reviews: The Bounce #1

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Written by: Jeff Lake
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The Bounce #1
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: David Messina
Publisher: Image Comics

From the opening page it’s apparent that Image Comics’s The Bounce isn’t your average superhero funny book. The problem is, at issue’s end it’s still hard to determine what kind of comic it wants to be. Writer Joe Casey stuffs his debut with a myriad of different plot points and set pieces, leaving the end result uneven and a bit lackluster.

The Bounce follows the exploits of one Jasper Jenkins, proving once again that all it takes to be a superhero is a little alliteration. Jasper is not what you’d call a responsible individual, more focused on kicking back and getting high than keeping up with the days of the week. The character is such a burnout that it’s hard to imagine him leaving his living room, let alone fighting crime. Fight crime he does, however, as the costumed vigilante presumably known as The Bounce. Though decidedly different in demeanor, this hero nevertheless comes off as a Spider-Man knockoff. It’s as if Peter Parker was yanked out of the Marvel-verse, tossed in a new suit, and removed of his family friendly filter. Even his one liners sound familiar, if not more vulgar, making it hard to distinguish The Bounce as a unique character.

The rest of the story is a mishmash of dramatic dialog, superhero throw downs, and excessive drug use. It’s exposition heavy, even during the battles, to the point of being just a tad too wordy. The only real conflict in the book is minuscule, involving some sort of super weapon being constructed by some sort of lizard-eating bad guy, leading towards something sort of interesting. The biggest disappointment isn’t that the book is bad; Casey adeptly shows a talent for structure and direction, and the writing for the most part is quite strong. The issue I take is that in end it wasn’t compelling or engaging enough to market my interest. Material is seemingly culled from other media (I got a strong Dark Knight vibe at one point) and unfortunately feels flat. We need a reason to care about these characters, and as of now that link isn’t there.

This disconnect unfortunately carries over to the art. David Messina does fine work here, it just doesn’t feel inspired. With a book like this you expect the art to elevate the book as a whole, and instead it reads as just another cops and tights yarn. Given the interesting nature of The Bounce’s powers I was expecting some real engaging stuff, but ultimately the panels are rather ho-hum. Again, this is not a knock on Messina’s ability, but more so his execution. There’s no sense of urgency or excitement here, no dynamism to make the book stand out. This was especially noticeable in the scenes involving civilians, as I found myself yearning for the next action set piece. To be fair, there are moments where the art truly shines; here’s hoping those moments become the norm and not the exception.

All in all, The Bounce is a work in progress. Too much was introduced in this first issue to really know where it’s headed, but unless it gets some sense of direction it will be a hard sell. Casey and Messina have laid the groundwork for something that could really be good, so hopefully they’ll build off this first issue and bounce the next installment out of the park.

Jeff Lake



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