I've never seen or read anything quite like this. I'm actually a little worried that I might not have the ability to put my experience of this comic into words the way I would with any other review. Perhaps a metaphor would work best?
Why, pray tell? Don't worry! I have a long explanation for my metaphor.
Back in the day in Ocean City, Maryland, the early incarnation of the Gravitron was called, simply enough, the "Rotor". I went on it with my (not actual) Uncle Eric, his son Burke (not my cousin, but like a cousin), and my dad. It was supposed to be a big bonding moment for all of us. (I think? I don't know why it was necessary to include me.) The Rotor was a big, silver cylinder. That's basically it. Can you imagine a gigantic tin can? That's what it was. The four of us climbed up some stairs, handed over our tickets, and then we climbed down the platform and into The Rotor. Uncle Eric was really excited the whole time, and I remember him explaining that it was like magic, that you were going to be spinning, but your body wouldn't totally understand it, and you could stick to the walls. (If that sounds scattered and confused, that's because I remember it being scattered and confused, although that's not pertinent to my description of Butcher Baker, it's just part of the experience, and probably a big part of what made the next part so intense.)
It was great, I guess? As long as you didn't look up. "You really shouldn't have looked up", that was something they told me later. I was young, and I was small, and I just felt really weird from the centrifugal force. As we started spinning, the floor suddenly dropped away, and there was my Uncle, sticking to the wall and looking all sorts of weird. But Burke and I still sort of had our feet on the "ground", or if you want to get technical, where the ground used to be. Perhaps we were too young or small or something but we just rode the floor on down. Burke got into the act of trying to stick to the walls, but he didn't stick, you know? I just hung out, and got terrified. As the ride finished up, the floor came back - but Burke's foot did not. Okay, it wasn't really that dramatic. It was the top of his sneaker, and it was sort of caught in the floor - and my Uncle and Dad were telling the guy that Burke's shoe was stuck. I started shrieking and crying hysterically thinking that Burke was going to lose his foot. I didn't throw up, but I probably would've felt a lot better if I did.
Oy. It was a little traumatic, just retelling this to you.
Anyhow - that was The Rotor. And perhaps, in my metaphor, usual super hero comics are the Rotor. They're a thrill for some. They're kind of wild and safe at the same time. Pushing boundaries, but maybe not appropriate for kids.
I stayed away from any super-spinny rides for quite some time. And then, about 10 years ago, I went to Rehoboth Beach, and they had the Gravitron. It was The Rotor all grown up.
Things have really changed. It looks like a space ship on the outside. Inside it reminded me of what it felt like to be in a planetarium, although I don't really know why. There was some crazy ass, hip, rocking' music playing. Not dance music, but the kind of stuff that comes in two flavors at once: thumpin' bass and thrashing guitars. You climb into that space ship looking thing and you lie back on these red rectangular matts, and you hang out as the thing spins and you, yes, you, stick to the walls. The music thrashes your brain into mush while the space station pulls your spine out of your ears in a sleazy make-out room. It's messy, it's dirty, it's irresponsible and it reminds me of bad choices and sneering.
Oh yeah: I don't know anything about this comic book. I don't know anything about the characters.
I had a hell of a lot of fun figuring it out. The coloring of the first few pages - hell, the whole thing - is so freakin' cool. That was what sucked me right in at first. That American flag semi - we had a record player painted like that growing up and nothing else, not a red-white-&-blue bikini or an actual flag, has come close to giving me the same thrill upon looking at that red, white & blue record player until now. Until right now, when I saw Butcher Baker's truck in all its colorful glory. LOVE IT.
And by the time the art sucked me in, something else had too: this comic is hilarious. I mean, its irreverent and silly and totally awesome. How much do we love the sort of Smokey & The Bandit-type, CB-talking, Lone Star Star State representin', hillbilly of a cop thang that shows up in the middle of the book? How awesome are these villains? Even the little stuff is great, like the fact that Butcher Baker is not toally invincible - he gets a bit of an ass whoppin', right? And he's still a bad ass! I mean, with a name like Butcher? You'd have to be. HAVE to. You've gotta live up to a name like that. You have to earn the right to be called that every single day you're alive.
Anyhow....what can I say. They--comics, I mean--should be this much fun all of the time. They should always look cool, they should always have some edge to them, something that reminds me that there's people making them that care about them more than they care about anything else in the world.
There's just not enough time for anything less.
-Nina Stone, 2011