ADVANCE REVIEW: Father’s Day #1 – An Awkward Start to the Holiday

**This review comes with a SPOILER WARNING**

Writer: Mike Richardson

Artist: Gabriel Guzman

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

$3.99

Mike Richardson has poked his head out of his President’s office at Dark Horse (which I like to imagine is decorated like the Batcave) to give us another comic as an Eisner awarded writer. Now, this immediately peaked my interest, as I love both “The Mask” and “47 Ronin” and was very excited to see what we would get. And I’m pretty sure what I got was a rejected movie script.

The story is so basic it sounds like an elevator pitch: There is a girl who goes back to find her long-lost dad after her mother dies and discovers that her dad was a hitman. Now that she has found him, the two are going to go on a wacky adventure, traveling through America in a Winnebago to visit American landmarks and unlock clues leading to a mystery of the human heart. Wait, that’s not it, I must have gotten bored halfway through and started making up my own story. No it’s pretty much just a dad and girl fighting mobsters. If you can imagine a cross between Taken with Liam Neeson (minus the soothing voice of Liam Neeson) and the story of Big Daddy and Hit Girl from Kick-Ass (minus the color of either character) and you kind of get a feel for what’s going on in Father’s Day. And honestly what it feels like is a movie script that the author hobbled together into a comic to get some action out of it.

Let me back up and say I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Father’s Day is bad by any stretch of the imagination; the story moves at a brisk clip and it’s obviously written by a master of the art form. I appreciate any author who can take the first three pages or so and tell a silent story. There is certainly nothing amateur about the production. When it works, there are some nice action beats that make the characters seem clever and there even seems to be some subtext to their characters. The main problem is the whole thing seems lazy. So when the daughter shows up, of course she has the hitman immediately on her tail. Not because there is anything in the comic to adequately justify this but because at this point in the comic we need an explosion to jump the plot forward, even though these characters are going to show up again with zero explanation. Or, as another example, **HERE BE THE SPOILERS**  when the dad tells his daughter to make a run to Mexico (which she of course doesn’t) there isn’t an attempt to judge how that could possibly be a real plan for the survival of a fourteen year old. Even the subtext of how and why the dad left, which could have been stretched out into a nice character building moment where we understand their relationship, is hastily gone over. The whole thing feels the polar opposite of amateur, it feels like an expert going through the motions.

The art by Gabriel Guzman is good, but, I wouldn’t call it his best work. The line work is nice and cinematic and I like how it gives the book the feeling and sense of small town America. I kind of dislike how he draws the daughter though, on account of how sneering and terrible she comes off. I get that she’s a teenager and we’re not exactly supposed to like her, but it would be nice if I sympathized for the character who lost her dad, instead of finding myself annoyed by her. The panels could be a better organized as well, there’s a lot of white space in this comic which makes it feel unfinished.

Reading through this review I realize how bad this review sounds. And I want to be clear that this is not a bad comic. The reason why I seem so focused on the bad is just because there isn’t really any good to grab onto. There aren’t any standout characters who are either bad-ass enough to like or funny enough to admire. There aren’t any actions scenes clever enough to show off. There isn’t even any artwork that I find particularly inspired. The only thing that keeps me excited about this is that its a four issue story from one of the best writers in the business and I assume if he has put this out it’s going to pay off. Right now though, I’m still waiting.

“Father’s Day #1” earns 5/10