Jeremy Owen and Greg Freeland II
$5 (print) $2.99 (digital)
Jeremy Owen’s bearish hero with a mysterious past returns with another chapter. Whereas emphasis in the preview issue was on establishing Mike (Bludgeon’s secret identity) in Albuquerque and introducing the incredibly chatty and perhaps a tad overly caffeinated coffee barista Alice who inserted herself into Mike’slife as his new bestie, as seems to be her style with people. Adventure and intrigue were the drving points of the first issue. Owen strikes a nice balance between action and characterization in his second issue, cover billed as “Bludgeon vs Social Interaction” with “Well, Hello There” doubling as a humorous title and a response from Bludgeon regarding a curious object in a later scene.
Owen has fun playing the tease here with Mike in this new story, making him a fairly uncomfortable noob in the gay bar where Alice as foil holds court with her homies Jake and Larry. It’s a nice way to reveal more about Mike’s character and his personal quirks while raising more questions about his past, especially when it involves mention of living in the Mile High state which in turn raises the uncomfortable topic of some public tragedy that Mike seems to have witnessed. And is Owen planting the seeds of a relationship in that ever so awkward conversations taking place between Mike and Jake? Or maybe Owen is going to upend the damsel in distress trope with Jake because there’s a scene of Jake leaving alone and commentary later in the story that raises the possible of something dire. Whatever is planned it’s highly doubtful to be a fridging.
Bludgeon gets called out, cutting Mike’s night out even shorter than he’d anticipated, through the use of a plot device that might do Silver Age Superman writers proud. Don’t be alarmed though! It isn’t super compressy absurd here and instead underscores the contrast between the strong guy appearance and perception of being socially awkward as well as being tied to these strange monkey like creatures with exaggeratedly sharp, pointy teeth that kind of freak me out. Plus, Owen has me baffled with what they are and how they tie in to our titular character and I like not being able to figure out things right away. I was disappointed figuring out Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects and the surprise about the character in The Crying Game well before the secrets were revealed in the movie. No idea about these monkey beings and how they’re able to give Bludgeon a run for his money in a way that surprises him. I like the juxtaposition of a pack of gnarly, gnashing critters as a pack of evil David’s against the heroic Goliath of Bludgeon.
A dream sequence with Mike and another hottie guy not seen before that is appropriately evocative of a dream, courtesy of Greg Freeland II. Was he a partner in super heroics as well as a lover? More mysteries with more questions to answer!
Owen quite nicely fits into the ending an amusingly hung over Alice only heard on panel and a news report that fills Mike with no small amount of dread as the perpetrator of the gruesome crime left a message intended solely for Bludgeon. Rounding out the issue are a couple of Bludgeon drawn by Ed Luce and Matt Broussard, burly artists in their own right.
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