Henry and Butcher #1
Story by Gonzalo Ventura
Art and Letters by Martin Blanco
Pit Bros. Productions
Cover price: $2.99; Available now
Locked in a madhouse, an ex-boxer and ex-muscle for the mob named Henry once again tries to piece together what he remembers was his last night of freedom before he was put away. He recalls his night out with his friends having beers, where he once again tells the story about how his friends and wife made his life right. He recalls a drunken drive home, where he crashes his car, and stumbles home only to discover another family living there. And he recalls his dog, Butcher, talking to him and telling him that there is a way back to his normal life. Things are looking pretty bleak for Henry, but if he can avoid the lunacy that even a sane man will contract from being stuck in a padded cell, he may just figure out what the hell has happened to him.
“I loved my wife.” This is the opening downer of a line that writer Gonzalo Ventura, co-founder of Pit Bros. Productions, begins this sprawling and hard-edged story with. From here, Ventura leaps to flashbacks and flashbacks-within-flashbacks to unfold a gritty and maddening story that would have made a great first chapter in a sleazy, cheaply-printed paperback. His use of time-hopping emphasizes within the reader the disorientation that Henry is going through as he tries to collect his thoughts. Within Ventura’s washed-up ex-boxer character we associate the great cinematic boxers who have fallen on hard times, even though his character more physically resembles the assassin from the Hitman video games than Rocky or Terry Malloy. Henry knows that he has done wrongs in his past, and as he has made his confession to us, we can forgive and want to see him escape his unjust imprisonment.
Ventura’s words are backed by artist Martin Blanco. Blanco’s black and white foreground artwork is filled with dark grays and shadows, like pieces of Henry’s past that he can’t quite get the imagery right on. His backgrounds further push the memory motif, as Blanco uses what appear to be actual photographs that have been put through the ringer and slightly distorted to mesh with his art. This multi-layering of images gives the work a slightly 3D look and keeps the eyes focused on Henry’s more important recollected details rather than the unimportant backdrop.
Henry And Butcher #1 sets up what should turn out to be a hard-boiled mystery, with plenty of face-pounding and arm-breaking violence given Henry’s violent past, and plenty of delicious red herrings to prolong the pain and confusion he will have to suffer before reaching his destination.
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