Top Cow/Image Comics 2015
Written by Bryan Hill & Matt Hawkins
Illustrated by Isaac Goodhart
Coloured & Edited by Betsy Gonia
With every issue of this series I get more and more intrigued by Mark. His Asperger's makes him the most unlikely hero around and it’s that uniqueness to him which is spotlighted and makes this as good as it is. We don’t get to see many people with these kinds of afflictions in comics and that’s a shame as I think people don’t want to be reminded of them but this shows us that even being different doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. It’s a powerful thing to show people and as accurately as they do the boys really have gone above and beyond in making this story relatable and incredibly interesting.
Mark however has two parents that don’t make life easy for him. His controlling and distant mother and an absent father who is just beginning to see his son’s potential. The two make for a volatile mix in man who is seeking to be the most of who he can be. I love the dynamic here with that and then there’s Maggie whom he’s experiencing emotions for for the first time. Add it all together and you’ve got an explosive situation that has to come to a head soon.
So Eden is having a boxing match, they do it once a year. Like the Gladiator games to appease the bloodlust of the local citizens. Giving them this in theory keeps them from acting out during the year. The Mayor really is one stone cold piece of work and hearing her talk with Mulvey was as scary as it was illuminating.
Now the best part of the issue comes when Maggie asks Mark to help Curtis. Mark really doesn’t understand boundaries and such but he’s willing to learn and he’ll Curtis win if in return he teaches him how to make Maggie like him. She’s right there too, though in all fairness she’s known how he feels about her for quite some time. What results in all this is the talk the two have about them, their friendship and the possibilities between them. Maggie’s pretty damaged goods but Marks sees past that he knows about her past and doesn’t care part of that scares her. It’s completely natural to be scared by someone who genuinely wants you to be happy and is willing to do anything they can to ensure it.
So does Curtis win his fight with Mark’s help? Do Maggie and Mark reach an understanding or is Maggie going to use Mark? So many things happening story wise here between the characters and Mommy Dearest is in the background watching it all unfold. There’s this heightened sense of fear and dread in this town and the Mayor keeps that on a tight leash just enough to remain in control but not spillover into anything she can’t handle. I can’t wait to see what happens when she learns that her control has been nothing but an illusion and it all comes crumbling down around her.
Isaac and Betsy keep getting better and better with each issue. Mark’s expressionless face, that’s to his Asperger’s, mixed with all the emotions of the other characters is striking to see. There’s something different about Curtis and the detail put into him that makes him stand out. The whole darker tones of this book keep the town of Eden far from it’s namesake and that is a huge part of its appeal.
This is a daring and incredibly well executed book.