Art by: Eric Powell
Published by: Image Comics
The first issue of Big Man Plans is a complicated debut. There is a lot to love about it but it also has some pretty significant short-comings. Regardless of whether you love the issue or not, the book is sure to make you exclaim something, as it takes turns being ultra-violent and vulgar and depressing. This isn’t a series that’s going to make you feel good about yourself and co-writers Eric Powell and Tim Wiesch don’t mince their words nor do they spare the rod as you’re immediately thrown into the gritty world of “Big Mans Plans #1”.
The first thing that strikes the reader is how well Eric Powell’s art fits the atmosphere and tone of the story. This is a revenge tale and the spiteful tone it takes is perfectly completed by the drab colours of Powell’s work. The art is spectacular in every sense of the word, though we’d expect nothing less than the indomitable Powell. There’s a crudeness and lewdness to the visuals but it looks so damn good that you’ll examine every panel, including the one with the dick. Yep, “Big Man Plans #1” has got the dick.
That’s the thing that “Big Man Plans #1” does really well: It nails its tone and atmosphere within the first couple of panels and then just nestles in for the turbulent ride. The inner monologue gives us a glimpse into the mind of a psycho-killer. One that had a tough life, sure, but one that ultimately becomes the villain of his own story and unabashedly doesn’t give two shits whether you like it or not.
One of the inherent problems that revenge tales has is that they create characters that are too unlikable to really connect with the reader. “Big Man Plans #1” is a well-written comic book but it trips over its own feet too many times as a narrative. It seeks to tell a different kind of story but settles on telling us the protagonist’s back story for the majority of the installment. It attempts to establish a unique kind of character but it ends up feeling a lot like a clone of every other story who follows the “tough childhood-marginalized youth-expended adult” structure. Other than the fact that the main character is under four feet tall there really doesn’t seem to be much new here.
What is here is good, as I’ve said, but I’m hoping for more substance and less style in future issues. Powell’s art is essentially flawless and gives the book its best boost but I wonder how many people will be hooked by the gruff, unlikable character and the plot (which is sure to be somewhat controversial).
Admittedly, debut issues are really difficult beasts to tame. Powell and Wiesch certainly have an interesting premise but the story didn’t really take off in this crucial first installment. We really don’t know what to expect from the second issue other than a pissed-off, marginalized little person. And those readers to whom empathizing with the main character is key to their enjoyment might be turned off by the lack of colour this protagonist portrays. Albeit this was only one issue but the heavy-handed narration really implied that an internal conflict within the character isn’t going to be on the docket so much as punching a dude in the dick is. Yep, “Big Man Plans #1” punches the dick.
Gorgeous art from Eric Powell carries a book that would otherwise find itself mired in a tornado of masochism and clichés. “Big Man Plans #1” is far from a perfect debut but despite its flaws manages to be an entertaining yarn and introduces readers to a concept worth exploring. This book could have been way up its own ass with its marginalized protagonist and managed to avoid that entirely by just making the character work within the confines of the story – it has that going for it too.
“Big Man Plans #1” earns 7.5/10