52 Pick-Up Week 49:
Let me get this out of the way: I read the first issue of Twenty-Seven with the intention of it being a 52 Pick-Up and was SO completely disconnected with the weirdness of the story that I took a step back and waited for issue #2 to come out, hoping I’d have SOME handle on what was going on after a second go.
I don’t like spoilers much, but it’s hard to say anything at all substantial about this series without getting into the meat of it. The long and the short? Our protagonist is a rock guitarist until an injury leaves his left hand useless, confined to a brace without which he finds himself in excruciating pain. The first issue does a great job of setting up how hopeless Will’s – that’s his name, Will Garland – how hopeless his life has become, and so it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility where the story takes us. Ultimately, Will is putting himself at the mercy of some sort of occult Dr. Frankenstein who uses nine cats to bargain with the devil to restore Will’s hand. Or something like that. But instead, Garland gets a knob in his chest that goes all the way to eleven.
The first issue is one of those shock and awe comics where a lot of stuff is thrown at you, very little of it is explained, and you’re supposed to be hooked just for the sheer fact that your mind’s been blown. The problem with these types of comics is that they rarely give you much insight into whether or not the comic is any good. As of having read issue #2, I can say it’s far better than I’d expected. It’s in issue #2 that we get a handful of fantastic events: First, the ghost of the crazy doctor explains that it was the demonic embodiment of the concept of the number nine that he – and by proxy Will – reached out to. The nine cats gave their 81 lives in trade – though the demon was apparently displeased by this trickery and took the doctor’s life as well – for Will’s miracle cure; which turned him into, to quote Jared of the Super-Fly Podcast, “Iron Man guitar player.” Essentially, Will’s been granted 27 chances at creative genius – though how exactly his abilities will manifest each time he uses them are anybody’s guess. The second great aspect of the second issue is seeing what a dick Will Garland still is, despite all that’s happened to him. It’s more subtle than oh, say, Gary the Rat, but I suspect the end result will be the same, and Will humbling himself will end up being the key to his salvation – spiritually if not physically.
So, do I like the book? It’s hard to say. Again, I echo the boys from Somewhere, Ohio… it’s an interesting read, but it’s still at that point where it’s hard to really get a handle on what’s happening and whether or not the big picture will be anything worth having read. The art is good, and certainly fits the tone of the book, but it’s nothing that would bring me back month after month on its own. The dialog is sharp and productive, but again, doesn’t necessarily stand out well enough to sell copy. No, in the end, this is a book that will have to stand on its premise, and right now, it’s hard to say what exactly that premise is or will be.
Still, there’s hope. The creative team’s not really getting anything wrong here, and as I said, there are a couple of really great elements at work. If this series continues where I believe it’s headed, I suspect it will stand out as a favorite in my collection. That said, I can’t help but feel I’d have been happier waiting for the trade just so that – as a reviewer – I’d know what the hell I was talking about.
Twenty-Seven gets 1+2=3 which is the square route of 9 out of 5 musicians re-learning their trade; it’s still too early to say for sure, due entirely to the obtuse nature of the storytelling, but I expect that by the end of its run, we’ll be in the 7-2=5 neighborhood
Take a chance on Twenty-Seven… it’s different, to say the least, and the potential is there for it to end up blowing all of our socks off. Or stay tuned, and I’ll keep you posted as to how it all turns out.