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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Eagleburger. Rudy Dean, Jef Stout (Writers), Gabe Ostely (Art) WP Comics (2016)

A dense, engaging and very inclusive conspiracy comix. This is very much in the tradition of earlier generations of underground comix, it explores the true history of recent decades via the conspiracies that swirl around Area 51, the Kennedy assassination, Elvis Presley and the notions of secret organisations that really run the world.
Dale Eagle, a fresh and deeply enthusiastic recruit to the CIA is transferred to Area 51 where he meets Agent Balzac and Deep Throat. Area 51 is not what Eagleburger expected, it proves not just to be a hidden site for the examination and exploitation of alien technology, it has layers of secrecy and conspiracy that suck the agent in far over his head. The action steadily gets more and more entangled, with details of one conspiracy bleeding into another until they are all finally drawn to together in an epic court case and and a conclusion that manages an effective change of tone.
The story is fabulously dense with detail and incident, Rudy Dean and Jef Stout have managed to include a bewildering array of conspiracy theories and loudly and savagely mock them all. This is a comedy not humour, the laughs come from the savage collisions of the cast and the plot. The unexpected use of well known characters like Elvis, J.F. Kennedy, Robert Oppenheimer is very well done,  rarely have they been used with such brutality and brutal effectiveness.
The extraordinary aspect to this comix is the discipline of the writing, the story is told in a hysterical key, everything is at top volume and there is no room for nuance. Keeping this coherent and on target is a very considerable achievement. The story travels in very wide loops to come back to nearly the same point of departure before looping off again. The powerful control that is exercised to ensure that the whole edifice does not collapse in on itself is rare, the story is unbalanced by design and that takes impressive confidence, technical ability and talent.
Gabe Ostely art catches the momentum and the ferocious comedy of the writing and explodes it onto the pages of the comix. The cast are all near caricatures, except where they are outright caricatures, they move through a fractured and absurd context with force and manic energy. The colouring is fantastic, it changes as the narratives move from one story to another, the different colouring is the key that keeps them organised and lets the reader move from one to another. The panel layouts control the pace of the story, from multiple close ups for conversations to full page spreads, the reader is consistently given variety to read.
The enormous ambitious density of the story and the high energy of the art play a bit against the overall impact of the comix. It is so dense that it is a little overwhelming for the reader, there is so much information on every page that it can be difficult to keep up with all the layers to the set up. The story is so dense that without the enormous energy in the comix the story would not lift off at all, let alone as successfully as it does. This is a mighty blunderbuss of a comix, apparently scattershot, with a very smart story engineering directing the delivery. This is made clear in the conclusion where the calm tone allows for something nasty to appear and to give the work the sharp edge it needs.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy kindly sent by Kim Roberts. To purchase a copy of Eagleburger, reading a vibrantly passionate, creative and pummeling comix is a great form of exercise clinically proven to improve you mental muscle tone, it can be purchased here

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