Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Lewis Larosa
Colours: Moreno Dinisio
Lettering: Rus Wooton
Release Date: 21st October 2020
Think of that one person who makes your heart sink every time they enter the room. That relative or colleague that you just wish the ground would open up and swallow. That one person whose very existence taints the air around them. Now set your sights lower… lower… keep going… just a little more… there we are! Meet Ernie Ray Clementine, throwback to the days of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, professional alcoholic and drug addict, unrepentant letch, and general shitstain on the bedsheets of humanity. There is no vice this man hasn’t explored, no depravity he hasn’t plumbed the depths of and just when he hits his own personal definition of rock bottom, he finds himself accidentally imbued with superpowers and is possibly humanity’s only hope of salvation. Ladies and gentlemen we are royally fucked!
There has been a resurgence in the trend of deconstructing certain comic genres, and the superhero genre is by far the biggest source of material, going all the way back to the early days of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. There have been lesser and greater success stories in doing so along the way, but this is one that I think has the possibility of being a great success. I loved every single thing about the first issue of The Scumbag; the writing, the art, the pacing, the sheer horrifying genius of making the worst, most selfish, most emotionally stunted person on Earth the only person that can save it.
While on the surface there’s nothing even remotely redeemable about Ernie, there’s also something about him that you just can’t being yourself hate. There’s a certain morbid fascination in watching his antics, thinking he can’t possibly get any worse and being utterly amazed (and horrified) when he finds a new low to sink to. As first issues go, the writing is pretty damned near perfect. It’s funny and shocking and tells you absolutely everything you need to know about our protagonist and the world he inhabits while leaving you aching to find out what happens next.
The artwork is way, way better than I had expected it was going to be. It’s hugely over the top, loud, brash and gloriously grotesque, and I was fondly reminded of Glen Fabry’s work on Preacher and Hellblazer. There are moments in this issue bordering on genius, albeit a twisted and disturbed genius, that made me pause in disbelief that they’d actually gone there!
Simply put, this is an outstanding first issue. It’s definitely going to catch you off guard and I have no doubt that this is going to be a standout title of 2020.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek