Publisher: Image Comics
Writer(s): Eric Powell & Tim Wiesch
Artist: Eric Powell
Release Date: 2nd December, 2015
Holy hell. That was intense. Actually, “intense” doesn’t do the book justice. It has been a very long time since I have read a comic book that caused me stomach pains from the attempt to turn my barrel into a six-pack. My stomach still hurts from the workout.
Oh, and I laughed in places too, when it was appropriate.
I must admit that after having read Martin’s earlier reviews for the individual issues, I was in two minds on what this book would be right for me. I don’t mind violence, as long as it progresses a story. When Martin said “the guy on the receiving end is one of the most hateful, sadistic, and despicable ever committed to a comic page, and Powell affords both victim and reader no place to hide, using double page layouts for the majority of the book to provide us with a raw, unobscured view…” I honestly doubted that this book would be one that would “do” it for me.
I was wrong.
I should have had more trust in Martin. The eponymous “big man” in this book is saved from just being another one-dimensional vengeance giver by the beautifully crafted story that Powell weaves around the visceral violence. This little hate monster metes out a more vicious and violent form of vengeance than Frank Castle could ever think dream of, but in the end, if your heart isn’t broken by his story then you have no heart. Although he does some truly despicable things, he does them to people who have abused their positions of power, and doesn’t do it with any hint of joy. Just a grim certainty that he is doing these horrible things for the right reason.
I know that this is a collection of the four individual issues, and I know that I could go into a lot more detail. If you want that, then Martin reviewed all of the issues when they were first released, and those reviews are on the money.
This is a collection that I will be buying, and then making everyone I know that is into comics read. It deserves a following.
Chris B Says…
Revenge books are becoming more and more of a genre in their own right these days, and it’s a field that has predominantly been dominated by Jason Aaron. Between Scapled, Southern Bastards and Men of Wrath, he was in danger of having the whole gig sewn up. However, a new contestant has arrived in the guise of Goon Creator Eric Powell, and goddamn it if he hasn’t arrived with one gigantic smack in the face.
Big Man Plans is a brutal revenge story from the first page to the last. After initially reading it in single issues, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the collected edition just to have it all in the one bundle. The story of a down-on-his-luck dwarf nicknamed, for better or worse, “Big Man”, we follow his journey as he returns to his home town to exact his revenge.
From there though, Powell (along with Tim Wiesh, don’t think you’re getting away without some of the blame) seem to have essentially sat down and thought of the worst case scenarios for every scene, and then – somehow – made them worse. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a claw hammer in the same way ever again, and have developed a newfound respect for both Powell and Wiesch, if only for the sheer fact that they’ve managed to put this story to print and somehow made it utterly heartbreaking in between all the out-and-out visceral violence!
I was no stranger to Powell’s previous work, being a massive fan of The Goon for many years now, but for some reason, his work on BMP has taken on a whole different edge; it’s more polished, more detailed and so much more red than I’ve ever seen it. I hate to say it, but I found it beautiful, though I don’t think that’s necessarily the right word to use somehow?
Not necessarily the book you’re going to give to your Gran for Christmas, but certainly one that could be given to any Hammer House of Horror fan, or indeed anyone else that is of a certain mental disposition to instantly convert them. I might recommend giving them a wee sit down and a beer afterwards though. Possibly a cuddle, too. Definitely a strong contender for book of the year, and that’s not an accolade I give away lightly.
Big Man Plans is the most intense experience I’ve ever had reading a comic book series. The only other experience I’ve had in life that comes close to it was watching Martyrs for the first time. However, it also made me laugh hysterically – even though there’s nothing funny about the situation our titular pint-sized anti-hero finds himself in.
If you’re familiar with the work of Eric Powell, then it should come as no surprise to know that Big Man Plans oscillates between tickling and gut punching. One minute you’ll find yourself laughing along merrily as he performs cunnilingus in the back of a vehicle; then in the blink of an eye you’ll wonder why you’re shaking to your emotional core. Sometimes, both feelings are simultaneous – expect to have your emotions thrown into a blender then have the produce rammed down your throat. It’s tasty at times, but it will make you sick.
However, despite all of Big Man Plans nihilism, gallows humour and gratuitous violence, there’s a heart beating at the centre of the depravity – a broken heart you can’t help but sympathise with. As you learn more about the backstory of this anti-social, ex-con dwarf, you’ll find yourself rooting for him as he exacts his retribution on those who have wronged him. By the end of the fourth issue, I was on the verge of tears and almost sick to my stomach. I won’t go into spoilers, but if you’re going to read Big Man Plans, expect to have your day ruined and made at the same time.
Big Man Plans isn’t just the best series of 2015, it is also one of the greatest things you’re ever likely to read if you can appreciate its humour and ability to bend and break you as it sees fit. If you’re willing to take the journey into the heart of darkness, you’ll have a good time – then suffer the consequences later.
Funny, demented and excessively violent, this is not a story for everyone. But it’s so damn good I have to recommend it to everyone anyway.