Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bedlam #2

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Riley Rossmo

You have to hand it to Nick Spencer - he does know how to put together an incredibly strange comic.  The first issue of Bedlam felt like a Joker story translated into a creator-owned venue, but with this second issue, Spencer reveals that he's going somewhere very different with this book.

Most confusingly, the issue opens with two old friends running into each other at a Somethings Anonymous meeting, and going out for coffee, where they talk about old friends.  Then the one drugs the other, takes him home, strips him, ties him up, gets naked, and puts on metal angel wings and fishnet stockings.  Yes, this does happen.

From there, the book shifts back to Fillmore, the guy we met last issue, who is probably Madder Red, the Joker-analogue character.  Fillmore is back in a medical clinic with the doctor we met last issue, who had Red tied up after his supposed death.  It looks like this doctor is in the business of lobotomizing criminals and reintegrating them into society on a secret basis, for reasons we have yet to understand.  We know he's up to no good though, because his assistants are a mixture of dwarves and women with slashed-up faces.

We also learn the consequences of Fillmore's rather bizarre call to the police last issue.  Things don't get too weird until the end of the comic though, which involves a horse dragging part of a corpse through traffic.

The weirdest part, though, is that as you read the book, none of these things seem all that odd.  Like with his Morning Glories, Spencer creates enough story logic and internal consistency in his tale that you just kind of follow along, and it's all good.  It's only when you try to recap the book that you realize how strange it is.

At the same time, there seems to be a growing interest in brain-experimentation in comics lately.  I'm thinking of the work of the character Dr. Rot in Jason Aaron's Wolverine run (later revisited in Cullen Bunn's), and of what's been going on in Uncanny Avengers.  I wonder if this trend comes out of the zombie-obsession that has gripped comics for years...

I continue to not be overly impressed with Riley Rossmo's art on this book, but I'm used to that.  I'm still not sure if this is an ongoing series or a limited one.  I can see sticking with this title for 6 issues or so - I don't see it becoming a long-term commitment the way Morning Glories has.

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