Tag Archives: Drama

My Friend Dahmer

“THIS was twisted.”

Hey, hey. This is D.C., finally back from Wondercon and the chaos of life (hint, I work in CSI), but it’s time to throw down on a book that’s not quite fiction, but I think deserves a discussion: My Friend Dahmer.

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The heck is this about?!

This book follows the life of Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the most prolific and vile serial killers in history, up to his death. Focused through the perspective of the man who knew him, Derf Backderf, the story details the gradual destruction of Dahmer’s life, the chaos of his family life, and Dahmer’s appearance through the so-called “friends” who knew (of) him.

Impressions

Simply put…I don’t think I’ve ever read a graphic novel that made me this uncomfortable.

Backderf’s portrayal of Dahmer is multi-faceted. At times, Dahmer is foolish. Other times, he is as awkward and creepy as Backderf’s cartoonish and macabre art make Dahmer out to be. Yet other times, you can’t help but feel sympathetic of Dahmer’s plight. The chaos in his home–particularly from his mother–seems enough to drive anyone insane. Dahmer’s destructive home life, the neglect he endures at school, and the transgressions Backderf and Dahmer’s so-called “friends” commit just for laughs…

It really makes you wonder how someone could endure life in the manner of which he did. Even his ways of coping were destructive. Still, they were very human.

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Derf Backderf succeeds at writing not just a very human and very open portrayal of Dahmer, Backderf himself, and all others, but also at weaving an unusually sympathetic tale of the teenager who becomes a serial killer. The title is many things: misleading, sarcastic, and saddening. I honestly felt myself damning Dahmer’s family and “friends” and pitying Dahmer, and wondering just what kind of person he could’ve been if he had a healthier family and truer friends.

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When we see Jeffrey Dahmer’s post-high school life, it’s only in snippets, but they’re more than enough to convey just how far gone Dahmer had fallen.

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Verdict

Derk Backderf’s My Friend Dahmer is probably the most heartbreaking, macabre, and honest depiction of a serial killer as you could imagine. It’s a shockingly honest and self-damning look at the author, Dahmer, and everything around Dahmer. It’s difficult to remember that this tormented young man becomes the monster we all come to know from books and documentaries. Dahmer is easily someone we could see in ourselves or people we know who suffered much of the same.

It is a harrowing read that I can’t recommend enough.

END THROWDOWN.

Plutona

“So…you wanna be a superhero?”

Hey, all. This is D.C. here for a throwdown. I’ve been trying to barrel through my mountain of single issues, trades and graphic novels. I read some interesting and good comics latey, but few quite like Image Comics’ Plutona.

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Quick–the premise!

Simply put, Plutona is a tale of a ragtag group of children who accidentally come upon the body of one of their hometown’s heroes, Plutona. Sounds simple enough, yes? What happens while the children keep this secret unfolds in some very disturbing ways.

Highlights

Simply put: I really did not expect writer Jeff Lemire to unfold this story the way he did. It really surprised me.

While the dialogue is ultimately generic and simple, it fits, given the protagonists are only children. I expect more nuance and captions to capture the feelings and emotions of characters and environment, but the simplicity has its place here. In spite of the simplicity, Lemire does a commendable job detailing the shifting relationships between the children.

While there doesn’t appear to be a central character, more care was taken with Mie, Ray, and Teddy, but I did feel not as much was given towards Diane and Mike. Still, each character had very distinct personalities that made it difficult for me to like or dislike any of them. They were all flawed, as humans are–and children, especially.

The relationships serve to add to the disturbing nature of this series. There are friends who grow closer, friends who grow apart, others who are clearly being used, and those who are so desperate for acceptance or develop a sense of self. For that, Lemire deserves credit.

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Teddy’s evolution–or devolution–it’s the most striking in Plutona. Who this boy is, and what his aspirations and obsession are, are hashed out in frightening fashion. I was almost disgusted with this meek child’s actions. Was he psychotic, or was he just like other bullied children with repressed and bottled anger, just waiting for the properly escape, trigger, and outlet?

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The interesting thing about this book is, despite its name, the heroine Plutona is not the focus. Her background is delved upon only sparingly, but never the exact nature or origin of her powers. The book deals with the children’s discovering her and the fallout of that discovery.

Emi Lenox’s art is more cartoonish than I’m accustomed to when it comes to a book this serious. However, she captures the appropriate emotions in her characters to help drive the story. Each character is their own, and you can really feel their emotions on their faces, aided even more by Lemire’s script.

This is one book I don’t want to spoil (also because Kay hadn’t read it yet, and she’s a real whiner when it comes to spoilers), but you really have to read this series and see just how the ending comes about. It was just…simple, yet chaotic and disturbing with a somewhat open ending.

Verdict?

Plutona is started out as a simple fantasy that took a severely dark and disturbing turn. Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox work well in this hard tale of how children deal with a secret that becomes a crisis. This book gets a thumbs-up from me.

END THROWDOWN.

Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel

“They sing of who they are. They sing of deliverance.”

Hey, all, this is D.C. back to throwdown on an interesting comic: Valiant’s Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel.

Who is the Eternal Warrior?

Gilad Anni-Padda is the youngest of the three Anni-Padda brothers (the eldest, Ivar the Timewalker, and Aram, aka Armstrong). Somewhere around 10 millennia ago, the Anni-Padda brothers each achieved immortality in different ways. In Gilad’s case, the earth keeps him alive to serve and protect the geomancer, the speaker of the earth. By his introduction, Gilad had amassed almost 10’000 years worth of warfare expertise. He is Valiant’s more proficient warrior and strategist.

The third volume of Eternal Warrior addresses one of many periods in Gilad’s life and delves into something we all can attest to: faith, or lack thereof. After serving the earth for millennia, what happens when Gilad begins to question his faith and service to the earth and the geomancer?

Days of Steel sees the geomancer, expressed as a crow (which confused me, since all geomancers I’d seen, past, present and future, were human) tasks the Eternal Warrior with protect a baby destined to be the savior of his dying Frank people and culture in the war against the Magyar. What happens when Gilad questions his decision when choosing the “right” savior?

Writing and Art?

Peter Milligan does a fantastic job writing this story. Beyond Milligan’s poetic monologues, you’re instantly thrown into Gilad’s violent war. You still see the immortal’s very human nature, and his disgust with the basest part of human nature: violence. You can’t help but feel for Gilad and his struggle to make sense of his eternal life.

The best part of the story is reading about Gilad’s uncertainty that he chose the right twin. Even if you can predict it, it doesn’t take away from the liberating feel of the story and how the destined twin saves his people and culture in the face of overwhelming odds. Milligan can make you understand that strength can originate in even the weakest of humans.

Cary Nord takes on the task of bringing the Eternal Warrrior and his world to life. I’ve seen Nord’s art before in Valiant’s Unity, and I’m not a fan of it.It doesn’t always seem a good fit, but I have to concede that Nord’s art works very well with Milligan’s writing. Here, you see Nord’s art work well in showing an old and violent world.

With regards to the cast, Nord definitely captures the cowardice of Falk and his father, Gilad and Franz’s bravery and warmongering natures, and the conflict in Gilad’s heart over his faith. Nord’s art brings understanding to the storyline, and that made me enjoy this trade more than the first two volumes.

Recap

The third volume in the Eternal Warrior series, Days of Steel, is pretty heartfelt. Peter Milligan does a fantastic job writing a somber and simple story of faith, destiny, and revolution through the eyes of a weary and wary immortal. Cary Nord shows not only the violent nature of humanity, but also the hope, and resolve of an endangered people in the face of oppression.

I recommend the entire Eternal Warrior series, but Vol. 3 is definitely the best in my eyes.

END THROWDOWN.

The Horrors of Seduction

This is D.C. back to catch up with my throwdowns (life). But first, let me make an announcement:

This blog by Kay and me was always supposed to be about fiction in general. Kay has an education in film and media studies, while my love has been geared towards comic books. Regardless of that, our blog was always meant to be not just about comics–as it’s mostly been–but also about any kind of medium or fictional work.

To that end, I’m writing about this bit of craziness:

 

Seduction is a manhwa–think Korean comic book–by Yang San Park and Lee Hwa.

The story sums up as this: a family of three is torn asunder in so many ways. We get a look at why a married couple’s relationship is cracking. We also see how the brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who has loved her brother-in-law since she was a child, feel about one another. We also look at the motivations and behavior of all three characters (so far), and what they are trying to preserve.

And how it goes completely wrong.

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…Eep…

I’ll say one thing about Seduction. It is horrendously realistic and brutal, even with its stereotypically over-melodramatic Korean flare…I say that as a lover of K-dramas, haha.

You’ll feel a multitude of things when reading it. You’ll feel rage at one character, and then feel sympathy and even a sense of relation to that same character once you read his or her backstory. You will get angry at many characters for the choices they make while thinking, “Why doesn’t [x] just leave [y]?! Fuck [y]!!!” But then you have to sit and think about the realism of Seduction and how there ARE people who can’t cope with the difficulties of relationships, with infidelity, and with the hell that envelopes their lives…or the hell they pursue.

 

Why did the man, Chun Chan-Sik marry his wife? How has his wife, Jung Yoo-Mi, felt up to this point? Why did she even date Chan-Sik in the first place? Does Yoo-Mi even have feelings? How has Yoo-Mi’s younger sister, Sae-Mi, felt about both her sister and Chan-Sik?

These three have built up over a decade of life together, with all kinds of underlying issues and repressed emotions and behavior that we all have. How do these three act out their insecurities, their anger, their sadness and joy? Who’s in the wrong here? Who’s in the right? Is anyone right or wrong in this?

If you think think someone is completely at fault or completely right or wrong, then you have lived an incredibly charmed, naive, or idealistic life.

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A glimpse into Yoo-Mi’s background…

Seduction is horrifyingly and unapologetically realistic. It is certainly too graphic and realistic for the lowest common denominator or “common” reader that looks only for escapism.

I think there is a staggering amount of character development in Seduction. Depending on the life you’ve had, it’s hard to like any of these characters, or it’s hard to hate them. In my view, no one here is forgivable, but neither is anyone malicious (minus a man who want targets Yoo-Mi for sex).

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Either way, you can’t deny the torment everyone feels at their lives. It’s something we’ve seen in at least one person in our lives, from people who continue to dig themselves into holes of despair in lieu of facing their torment head-on.

If you end up feeling uncomfortable, sad, or angry, then I think Seduction served its purpose.

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END THROWDOWN.