I was introduced to Sam Humphries with his work on Marvel Comics’ Star Lord. I noticed right away that he was able to bring a subversive wit to the usual veneer of family friendliness in the Marvel world, thanks to the character of Star Lord himself. It wasn’t until I saw him speak at a con that I understood just how delightfully subversive he can be. He spoke about the comic that got him recognized by Marvel in the first place, a sci-fi story about a man alone in space who falls in love with his dog. A love story, if you will. Marvel saw in him someone who could create a true romance between Star Lord and Kitty Pride. They were not wrong.
With Citizen Jack that subversive sense of humor is allowed to shine, and what a fitting place for it to do so in the sports arena of America Politics. Jack Noseworthy is the all-American political outsider running for President. He was a failed hockey star, a failed Mayo,r and on the verge of being a failed snowplow salesman until Marlinspike, Jack’s demon buddy, helped make him a viable candidate for filling the shoes of the most powerful person in the USA. Some blood has been spilled along the way and now with Marlinspike strangely silent and it being a day away from a televised debate, one can only wonder how far Jack will have to go to appease Marlinspike and his own search for acceptance to win.
There are two moving and telling moments in this issue. The first is a splash page close up on the face of the beleaguered and emotionally strained Jack. Tommy Patterson, the wonderful artist who is bringing this all-too-familiar world to life, finds every crease, downward line, and wrinkle in our anti-hero’s complexion that, in turn, shows us the cracks forming in relation to his very soul. Is this what a politician’s heart looks like? Colorist Jon Alderink fills in the blanks with brownish circles under his eyes and shadows in all the right places. This is a tortured man. If he were not, we wouldn’t care. We find ourselves hoping he’ll find a way out of the mire he finds himself in.
The second instance speaks to Jack’s humanity. When all seems lost and he is about to make a very poor decision, his smart and most likely misguided campaign manager, Donna, says she’ll help him. Jack’s face goes slack and his eyes open with a real vulnerability, surprised that someone would still be on his side.
In these moments Humphries finds a universal truth; he makes an appeal to the parts of each of us that remembers our losses, those parts of us that carry those moments around, clawing to prove that we are better than our failures make us seem.
There will most likely be several great comics this year, but right now, Citizen Jack is turning out to be one of the best.