Review – Palmiotti & Brady’s The Big Con Job #1 (of 4) (BOOM! Studios)

BOOM_BigConJob_001_A_MainPublisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer(s): Jimmy Palmiotti, Matt Brady
Artist: Dominike Stanton
Release Date: 4th March, 2015

When Palmiotti & Brady’s The Big Con Job was first announced, I couldn’t help but get excited about the prospect of Jimmy Palmiotti transferring the offbeat style he has displayed on the likes of Harley Quinn to a quirky, goofy heist caper. Imagine my surprise then to discover that the first issue of this brand new limited series isn’t that at all – at least not yet, anyway – and actually comes across as an unexpectedly emotional character study of washed-up former geek icon Poach Brewster and his similarly down-on-their-luck collection of friends and co-stars.

Okay, so there’s still an undeniably quirky aspect to the series, particularly during the cheesy extract from cult TV show ‘Buck Blaster’, and during an incident where washed-up Danny Dean is cornered by an overenthusiastic fan in the grocery store, but even the latter exchange is tinged with sadness as the true desperation of Danny’s situation becomes quickly apparent, giving the whole scene an added sense of poignancy.

Palmiotti and Brady work well together here in establishing the status quo, providing some instantly identifiable characters types. Some of the peripheral characters aren’t particularly well developed, it has to be said – this is very much the Poach Brewster story, people – although hopefully they will be gradually fleshed out as the story moves forwards. The writers also set out a pretty un-subtle critique of a convention scene where event organisers continually move the goalposts to attract younger talent, leaving the ‘old guard’ struggling to stay relevant and make a living. Quite how autobiographical this particular aspect of the series is can only be speculated at, but it does make for an interesting point.

Dominike “Domo” Stanton’s artwork is perfectly suited for a title like this, with his over-exaggerated caricatures giving each of the key players their own unique visual style. Each member of the ‘crew’ has a distinctive body shape and size, from short and stumpy FX maestro Hendrix to silicon-enhanced, gravity-defying Blaze Storm, keeping things interesting throughout. Domo also manages to pack in a surprising amount of emotional punch to his otherwise ‘cartoony’ work, particularly during the scenes featuring Poach and Danny.

This series has been marketed as ‘Galaxy Quest meets Ocean’s Eleven’, and that’s pretty much the best way to describe it so far. If the idea of washed up former celebrities taking matters into their own hands and deciding to rob the biggest comic convention in the world tickles your fancy, then this is most definitely the title for you. Funny in places, tender and moving in others, this is a series with a brilliantly executed premise and a colourful cast of characters. Count me in for the rest of the job.

Rating: 4/5.

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576682_510764502303144_947146289_nThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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