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Ferryman #1
posted October 16, 2008
 

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Creators: Marc Andreyko, Jonathan Wayshak
Publishing Information: DC/WildStorm, comic book, 32 pages, October 2008, $3.50
Ordering Numbers:

I couldn't figure out exactly why this derivative, unimaginative comic book was coming out from Jim Lee's WildStorm imprint, let alone why anyone at DC would care to send it to me until I saw a few words on the title page that eluded me the first time through: "Joel Silver and Dark Castle Comics Presents." I should have known. It feels like a movie deal comic book.

A big problem with comic books that are attached to movie projects or are intended to be movies or are created to get the writer into movies or to attach a producer to comics or however they exist as both movie product and comic product is that they presume a much healthier, mainstream comics industry than currently exists. While you can find an audience for certain movies simply by making them available in a variety of formats for those that see everything done in a certain genre, comics doesn't have a similar ability to pull in that select group of people from a wide pool of readers. Any book published has to compete with a semi-savvy readership by either hitting a lot of the strongest buttons or doing something with the execution of the project that's going to delight in and of itself.

I don't see that here. Ferryman presents a generic action-filled first issue and a concept that I think is intended to shock and thrill but to my eyes is fairly pedestrian and easy to figure out, well, basically from the title -- it's some dude with tough-guy credentials collecting souls for the devil. The outcome of the long fight is never in doubt and while the conflict has some energy the style of artist Jonathan Wayshak is exaggerated in a way that makes every single thing look staged rather than possessing that inner logic that transforms similarly violent comic book battles. We're always seeing a comic book fight, never a fight in comic book form. The entire world bends itself to the needs of the combat on display by dropping detail, or including comedic set pieces, or tweaking the behavior of the principals to build suspense. There are no stakes. It takes an artist on the level of Chuck Jones or at least Tanino Liberatore to pull off that kind of mayhem and make it fun for fun's sake. Here it just feels like a re-run, nothing we haven't seen before, although maybe being committed to celluloid someday the action will have a bit more heft or they'll find a director or an actor able to make a unique contribution that will lift the entire enterprise. Comics simply isn't thriving in the way needed to make hits or even sustainable titles of other people's back-benchers, the fourth or fifth thing pitched at a lunch meeting. To spend such a big company's resources convincing people that maybe it is that kind of industry needlessly clogs up the system from bringing to readers work that seems more personally meaningful to the creators and is much more imaginatively told.