Welcome back! I hope you've all had a good weekend! It's Monday morning, and that means time to continue my series on Joe Casey's work. This week's offering is of a different caliber from the (relatively) grounded work that is Codeflesh, into the more surreal: the aptly named Doc Bizarre, MD. Casey's collaborator on this graphic novel is the most excellent Andy Suriano. These two have worked on several titles together, and we'll be tackling them later, but today is all about the medical man with the radical plans, Doc Bizarre.
I wanted to hit this story next because with it, I can show you, dear readers, some of the slick range Casey is capable of. As I went over last week, Codeflesh is more or less a grounded, neonoir tale, with a few fantastical elements thrown in for good measure, but mostly a morality tale drenched in authorial gray areas and thick artistic shadows on the dirty streets of LA. Doc Bizarre, MD, on the other hand, is a splashy fever dream about a man of medical insanity doing the dirty work of makin' monsters with the sniffles get better. That's it. No deconstructions, no morals, just some flat-out fun. It gives us a glimpse into Casey handling the ridiculous as deftly as he crafts the serious.
And this book, it is ridiculous. It's a depressed Frankenstein (the monster) pastiche who can't find the motivation to fulfill his, uh, urges satisfactorily. Just like Codeflesh, this one's short, so as far as plot details, I'm going to leave any big reveals there. Suffice to say, the story is hilarious, the back and forth between characters is amusingly sharp, and it even caps off with a nice little EC Comics-worthy twist.
If I had any complaints, it would be the length. The episodic nature of Codeflesh helped to make the narrative at least feel a bit extended. We get multiple views into the life of Cameron Daltrey, we get to see what makes him tick and his motivations. Doc Bizarre is, itself, just a single glimpse of the career of a mad medical scientist, and moves at a fairly quick clip. We have just enough time for a diagnosis, a new wrinkle to the case to appear, a romantic dalliance involving the townsfolk and the Doctor's demonic assistant, and a clean little wrap-up and the aforementioned humorous ending. There's a healthy portion of backmatter included, containing concept art, ad pages, pencils and finished colors, and it's all extremely nice to look at and something I love in a graphic novel such as this, I just wish we maybe had another case to read or an additional vignette tacked on.
Enough about my misgivings, though, on to the art. At first glance Suriano is doing a rock solid Jack Kirby impression, but by page two it's apparent that he's actually managed to blend Kirby, Wally Wood, and Al Williamson into a pretty awesome artist mashup that remains his own creation. It's drenched in psychedelic purples, oranges and greens, heavy on the foreshortening and extremely expressive. Emotions are cranked up to eleven. Suriano should be working more, and I'm hoping that this book's recent release (well, 2011) helps pave the way for us to see him on a monthly book or a new original graphic novel.
Regarding what I liked about story, the mechanics of it hold up. Possibly the length of the book helps avoid plot holes, or I may be that much of an unapologetic fanboy of Casey's, but the breezy read and outstanding art make this book one I love revisiting every few months on a lazy afternoon. It's an original enough hook to please comedy or horror fans, and beautiful enough to look at to please anyone that's a fan of damn fun art. Don't mistake my nitpicking the story length dissuade you from picking up a copy.yourself, it's a hell of an intro to Casey and Suriano, and, like Codeflesh, a great way to see what comics as a medium has to offer. Check back next week, I may just keep this train rolling and review their other series Charlatan Ball.