The Quarter Bin: Proof #1
Trade paperbacks and — God forbid — hardbacks are a big risk; dropping $14.99 to $34.99 on material you’re not sure about can lead to buyer’s remorse and bitter, bitter recriminations. Why didn’t someone warn you Captain America and the Falcon, v. 1: Two Americas was so bad? A sample would have warned you, but you had to order the whole thing.
Well, I’m not made of money either. So I’m trying out that sampling approach in The Quarter Bin. Recent comics that have lower promotional prices, are Free Comic Book Day giveaways, or I have found in that holy of holies, the Quarter Bin, get a quick review and a recommendation on whether it might be worthwhile to pick up the trade. So, without further ado, we have …
The Issue: Proof #1 (October 2007, Image)
The Culprits: Written by Alexander Grecian, art by Riley Rossmo
The Hook: A government agency, whose agents include a sasquatch, investigates and contains beasts that have been “sighted” but are not proven to exist.
Collected in: Proof, v. 1: Goatsucker
Strengths: Although the idea of a government group investigating the weird has been done before, it’s been a few years since The X-Files went off the air, so there’s some room for the idea. Proof alters the concept, with one of the investigating agents being an actual sasquatch. The first issue plays well with the idea, introducing the sasquatch during a training exercise that makes it look like he’s being hunted by the government and also playing up his new partner’s reaction to a sasquatch walking into a conference room. The “cryptoid” factoids provided to explain background to the reader are amusing.
Weaknesses: We don’t really get a feel for the characters in this issue. FBI agent Ginger Brown’s determination to find out what happened in a jewelry store robbery foiled by a golem gets her into the government’s cryptid-hunting operation; other than her having a boyfriend, her lukewarm determination is all we know about her. But that’s enough for the government to let her into their secret organization, evidently. John “Proof” Prufrock, a sasquatch, works with the government’s cryptid-hunting organization. He wears a suit and is probably smarter than his colleagues. The villain for the first arc, a chupacabra, acts less like a chupacabra and more like Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.
Mitigation: A villain that was just a beast, like chupacabras are generally described, wouldn’t be all that interesting, so giving the beast a familiar name while amping its threat level is probably smart. Not giving much character info in the first issue leaves a great deal of room for it in later issues. Having one character who is not human will cut the chances the series will be bogged down with weird romantic tensions, like The X-Files was. The “cryptoid” factoids will get old quickly, I fear.
Judgment: The makings of something very interesting are here, but the characters and plot didn’t excite me. This could be an entertaining series; this could also degenerate into a pile of crap. This first issue isn’t a definitive statement either way. Having no experience with Grecian or Rossmo, I don’t know if they’ll be able to turn the hook of a sasquatch agent into enjoyable stories; my feeling is that the story would be better if it concentrated on characters, which it didn’t in #1.
Hardcover, TPB, or Nothing?: The idea is good enough and the execution competent enough for me to recommend trying the TPB, although this might be a good one to get through your local library.