Friday, 8 January 2010
Review: Calamity Jack by Shannon & Dean Hale
Released: January 4th, 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-
Jack thinks of himself as a criminal mastermind with an unfortunate amount of bad luck. A schemer, a trickster... maybe even a thief? But, of course, he's not out for himself he's trying to take the burden off his hardworking mum's shoulders. She'd understand, right? He hopes she might even be proud. Then, one day, Jack chooses a target a little more... 'giant' than the usual, and as one little bean turns into a great big building-destroying beanstalk, his troubles really begin. But with help from Rapunzel and other eccentric friends, Jack just might out-swindle the evil giants and put his beloved city back in the hands of the people who live there... whilst catapulting them and the reader into another fantastical adventure.
I'll be honest here: besides Whedonverse ventures and the odd vampire-themed movie tie-in, I don't do graphic novels. They've never been something that particularly interested me, and I've never actively sought out one that didn't involve Buffy Summers, a stake or the name Richard Matheson. Queue my surprise when I read Calamity Jack, a gangsta retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, and actually enjoyed it. I mean serious must-read-again enjoyment. Weird, eh?
Calamity Jack is funny. The writing is witty, quippy and clever, and isn't far from those Whedonverse adventures I'm so used to. Granted, there isn't a vampire in sight, but there are pixies, giants and screaming brownies. Oh, and some kick-ass artwork to boot.
Calamity Jack is, for lack of a better description, a Hale-fest. Husband-and-wife team Shannon and Dean are responsible for the writing, while Nathan Hale (no relation) brings the characters and beanstalks to life. His artwork is really good, and makes the whole book that much more fun to read.
As with most graphic novels I've previously read, they inevitably end too soon, and usually without enough story or character development. That's my only complaint here, though it's a pretty minor niggle, and is something that I was expecting. I would have liked more Jack/Rapunzel, and more from little pixie Pru, though I can see why the depth and detail I'm used to perhaps wasn't possible in this instance. I'm now going to change the habit of a lifetime and find myself a copy of Rapunzel's Revenge. If it's even half as good as Calamity Jack, then I'm in for a treat.