Advance Review – On The Stump #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Chuck Brown
Artwork: Prenzy
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 19th February 2020

Bored of political procedure and incessant bickering from your elected officials? Tired of the tit-for-tat, back-and-forth parley and frequent childish name-calling? Would you prefer if politicians actually showed a bit of sleeves rolled up, gung-ho, get it done action? Well, if you want something that’s not so much political satire as political smackdown, On The Stump is an event you definitely want to get front row seats for!

Chuck Brown (who I was previously introduced to via the wonderful Bitter Root), Prenzy and Clayton Cowles have delivered a knockout blow with this tub-thumping debut issue. Consider a world very much like our own, albeit with one key difference. Sometime ago in the hazy past, would-be American legislatures forwent the usual campaigning and rallies to gather the required votes and instead settled bills via count or pin-fall in bare-knuckle brawls on the stump. Fast forward to the present and these ‘debates’ are now prime time PPV fodder with audiences captivated by bouts between the likes of Sens. Jack Hammer of South Carolina or Sweet Smell Shaw of California.

What’s particularly amazing about this issue, aside from the eye watering and delightfully squirm-inducing visuals, is how it transcends what could have been a fairly solid action comic into a very tight and gripping thriller. Behind the comic capers of the larger than life political ‘stars’ we are introduced to a shady underworld with fixing (tantamount to vote rigging, I guess) and murder plots aplenty.

The characters are well-written and engaging, and the art and imagery absolutely nails the mood and tone. We’ve got everything from the hardened FBI agent tugging at the threads of conspiracy to the weary, aging senator whose best fights are probably behind him, and a supporting cast of weird and wonderful combatants and killers.

As a Brit, I perhaps read a bit more whimsy into this as the ‘outsider’. That said, and given the fever pitch exchanges we’ve been subjected to on this side of the pond of late, I can’t help but appreciate there’s more than just a little kernel of truth at the emotions underlying this story. Whether you take this at face value and enjoy the ride or consider the paths we appear to be treading, the key thing is that you check this out.

For me, this isn’t social commentary done well. This is social commentary that rips your arm off and beats you with the wet end.

Rating: 5/5.

The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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