Publisher: Image Comics
Writer(s): Eric Powell, Tim Wiesch
Artist: Eric Powell
Release Date: 8th April, 2015
Shortly after arriving in his hometown of Tennessee, the ‘Big Man’ begins his quest for vengeance by bludgeoning a sheriff’s deputy to death in the parking lot of a local bar. The only problem is, the reasons for why are still vague at best. We’ve seen how the titular character is viewed with scorn and ridicule by the majority of people he meets, but surely that doesn’t warrant such a discomforting level of retribution. No, these folks must have done something bad, really bad, and it looks like they’ve fucked with the wrong bull.
After an explosive first issue, the second follows suit with more of the same sadistic, unflinching violence, which at times makes for uncomfortable reading. I actually found myself almost looking away in horror during moments that seemed to go too far. It’s not that the violence is overly explicit, but the blanks I was able to fill-in made me wonder what’s going on in my own head. It’s powerful stuff, and the kind of work that has an intensely personal feel to it, as though Powell and Wiesch had played these twisted fantasies out in their head several times, before gleefully committing them to the page. There’s a moment where the Big Man’s father tells him that “deep down, people just ain’t right”, and clearly both men are having a ball reinforcing the sentiment.
Powell’s ever-impressive art and storytelling drives the majority of the issue, with emphasis once more falling on character’s hands, perhaps to symbolise the power they have to transform a situation in an instant. The lilts and drawls of the southern accent readily come to mind through authentic but minimal dialogue, and the issue’s frequent wordless panels help create a suitably tense, foreboding atmosphere, whilst hinting at a humanity steadily being eroded beneath the surface. Most often it’s the sickening thud of a blunt object on flesh and bone that breaks the silence. The moment where Big Man is brought to heel being a perfect example.
Maintaining the high standards of the first issue was a tough ask, but Powell and Wiesch have delivered a stunning hammer blow to the temple as a follow-up. If you like your revenge-fuelled crime stories brutal and uncompromising, look no further.