What Possessed These People?

Written by Charles Meier

repossessedI’m going to do something which is, for me, a little odd. I’m going to keep this one short. Because, frankly, I don’t have all that much to say about this one. I could say more, I suppose, but it would just be rehashing my original point. That point is this:

Repossessed, the new four-part Image miniseries written and drawn by Jim Ringuet (Transhuman), is a series about a very particular sort of repo man. Specifically, the sort who repossesses human bodies from the demons who have taken up residence. The debut issue comes out Wednesday, retailing for $2.99.

My advice? Keep your money. This book almost couldn’t be more generic. The core premise seems promising, but Ringuet displays little in the way of dedication to it. There’s a tinge of depressing scuzziness inherent to the profession, mired as it is in crushed hopes and an inescapable sense of kicking a person while they’re down. A truly successful repo man, it seems to me, needs to become at least something of a lunatic in order to keep from sticking a gun in his mouth after a week. Nowhere is this better explored than in Alex Cox’s excellent film Repo Man, which explored the inherent loopiness of the profession by stacking it against a world gone suddenly and utterly mad, just to see if it still stood out. (It did.)

The repossession industry still inhabits a certain low rung in the cultural consciousness, but most of the resulting exposure misses the mark, focusing instead on that “kick ‘em while they’re down” aspect I mentioned. The result is such foul tripe as Repo Games, possibly the single most vile show Spike TV has ever aired, which is one hell of an accomplishment. The ideal, I think, would be to keep the poor saps offscreen, the focus instead upon those happy few who have chosen to devote their lives to legally-sanctioned thievery.

Gaaah, I was going to keep this short! You see what I have to work with here? I can’t even maintain sufficient focus to warn you not to buy this book, so tepid is the material. I honestly didn’t realize at first that the protagonists were even supposed to be repo men. I just assumed they were in the employ of some cookie-cutter secret society or government agency. Not until I learned that their home office is located in a strip mall did I start to put the pieces together. Even then, you do see agency branches in strip malls here and there, usually in the seedier parts of town. Tigard, for example. Not helping matters is that there’s nary a wacky, or even distinct personality in sight. Our three-person exorcism team consists of a Tough Guy (aggressive with a chip on his shoulder), a Smart Guy (level-headed and analytical), and a Girl (who is…a girl). I can’t remember any of these peoples’ names, and I just read one of them seconds ago as I type this. And that’s not all! We also see the Sleazy Minister, the Officious Rich Guy, the Hairy Biker, the Jaded Boss, and more. This isn’t a cast, it’s a cliché catalog. Even the demons, for all they’re meant to be impressive, look like they’ve just stepped off of an unimaginative MMA fighter’s arm. Clearly it’s intended as a homage, but it just ends up looking lazy. It’s like reading an issue of Pork, and I at least don’t have to pay for those.

Even more flat and generic is Ringuet’s dialogue, which all sounds like it’s being read off a script, by very bored actors. Ringuet is also prone to forgetting to “show, don’t tell”–after all, why show the Tough Guy punching a bouncer when you can have the Girl mention it happening seconds later? As is typical in these cases, the art is better, but Ringuet is never gonna be Rafael Grampa no matter how hard he tries (go read Mesmo Delivery, BTW). Pretty much ruining the art, however, is some exceptionally bizarre choices in digital lighting and coloring. Literally every single damn page of this book is covered with a rainbow-like film; it’s like someone spilled gasoline all over everything. I actually wonder if this is supposed to be a 3-D comic; however, so far as I can tell there’s not the slightest bit of evidence to support this notion. As for the lighting, digital bloom is terminally overused, which just enhances the tackiness.

My main issue, however, is this: why is Image even publishing this book? They already have the demonic-possession subgenre pretty well covered, what with Witch Doctor. And Witch Doctor enjoys the advantage of being, you know, good. While I recognize that Repossessed couldn’t be more different in overall theme and aesthetic, the execution would have needed to be far, far better to lead me away from drawing the comparison.

I want to stress once again that this is not a comic you should be buying. While not offensively awful, Ringuet does not in any way, shape or form earn those three bucks. My advice instead would be to hit up a few secondhand stores, particularly those with a large movie library. Odds are good you’ll be able to dig up an old copy of Repo Man. It’ll cost about the same, and be vastly more entertaining.

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