Thursday, April 25, 2013

Action Labs Month: The Final Plague # 1 Review

Written by Johnnie Arnold
Art by Tony Guaraldi-Brown
Action Labs Danger Zone


            Action Labs Month continues as we take a look into The Final Plague. We open with a family in a farm out in Iowa were a mother of 2 children, Helen, smashes a rat … and it just won’t die. Helen literally has to make it a smear on a wall in order to kill it. Afterwards, Helen’s husband, Robert, chats with his son noticing that some of the rats remains a twitching.

            We go over quickly to a hobo in New York who is drunkenly singing Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” and then …. OH GOD!!!!!

            Um … yeah. Moving on to a lab in Jersey, we find that one scientist, Jeremy, has a bunch of these rabid rats. He tells another scientist,  Carol, that they had blood on them. A rat was able to spit blood into another lab assistant, and Jeremy decides it is best to quarantine the rats … and the lab assistant.

            We get more with Helen and Robert’s family as they reveal to been having an infestation. Robert calls his buddy and exterminator, Alan. They have dinner together and send Alan down to kill the infestation of rats when … EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!


            Okay. As you noticed, I am kinda skeeved out by this book. Okay. MORE Than Kinda skeeved out. And that is impressive. Guaraldi-Brown really brings us a visually dark, gross yet interesting look to the tale. It is non-typical comic style  yet really works as sequential art. The lack of color in some spots with the addition of color in other pages really makes the scenes stand out more and covey a lot more emotion. You can see emotion on faces and Guaraldi-Brown lets the visuals and colors take you in a different way. I appauld him for his use of darker, sharper inks and the colors look almost as if water colors but I am not sure. Yet, these really work to bring you into the atmosphere of the book, the scenes and overall emotions that are put out in the panels.

            The lab was very  sterile so there are a lot of whites, grays and blacks till the rat spat blood.  When Robert and his son  look at the sunset, there was a feeling of optimism there. Yet, the biggest thing that I MUST give Guaraldi-Brown credit for is the horrific visuals. Dear God, I have not been this squimish about a comic book for nearly 2 decades.( Note: Last time I was this squimish, I was a teenage readying the roaches vs the rats on Blood Syndicate) The panels really brought me there and I felt so unclean. Still do in fact. WELL DONE Guaraldi-Brown.


            The Final Plague # 1 gives you a lot in the first issue but presents it wonderfully. Arnold gives us a family we can relate to, some scientist who are studying the probably and the beginnings to seeing how bad this “plague” really is. It is nice seeing animals kind of fighting back humans for a change.

            There is a good amount of uncomfortable dirty in this book and I LOVE it. This is the type of comics I really enjoy. Rich characters in situations that make YOU (the reader) uncomfortable. And Arnold does this several times, which each team escalating the filth and horror. The issue was paced really well and we got introduced to all the characters in a organic, positive way. Arnold also seems to have subplots stewing and what is more horrifying is seeing the reach of this “plague” already.

            I also give kudos to Arnold for going the extra mile in getting down dialects and vocabulary from different parts of the US down. Helen and Robert sound like they are from a farm in Iowa. Jeremy and Carol sound like they are from Jersey but NOT the Jersey Shore. I give him extra props for adding the flavor to the books cause I seem to read a lot of books that don’t diversify speech enough these days. So another point in Arnold’s favor. And Arnold’s script alongside Guaraldi-Brown’s visuals make me feel unclean, uncomfortable, horrified and WANTING MORE!


            I am pleasantly surprised at this book. THIS is quality comics. This is what reading comics is about. Being moved, captivated and manipulating readers to feel and think because of your script. The Final Plague # 1 stands as a great shining star in the creative owned sector. The characters feel realistic. The pacing is excellent. The plots believable and gripping and the art is amazing. This book UNSETTLES me and I am not easy to unsettle after 22 years of comic book reading/collecting. Exquisite work from Arnold and Guaraldi-Brown.


            I need to take a bath and afraid of small animals after this book. I humbly give this book a 10 out of 10! BUY THIS BOOK! ORDER THIS BOOK! GIVE YOUR FRIENDS A COPY! THEN BUY IT AGAIN!!! 

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