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This week saw the release of The Bounce by Joe Casey, David Messina, Giovanna Niro and Rus Wooton into comic shops. The Image Comics series stars Jasper Jenkins, a pot-smoking slacker who’s also a superhero.
“The Bounce is a full-blown, 21st-century superhero in all the ways that just … feel … so … right,” Casey told Comic Book Resources. “Underneath the mask, Jasper Jenkins is a typical twenty-something who likes to hang out with his pals, get his smoke on big time, put on a costume and jump out to do the hero thing. And the world needs him — it’s a dark place out there. But a more pressing personal problem is that his brother just happens to be the assistant DA, recently charged with rounding up the community of costumed freaks that Jasper is now a part of. A classic comic book dilemma! So, along with trying to keep his secret from his brother, the Bounce has to deal with a colorful and twisted rogues gallery which includes creeps like the Crunch, the Fog, the Vamp and the Horror. Clearly, we’re trying to put the ‘fun’ back in funny books, with full-on, four-color superheroics exploding off the pages …!”
So how fun and explode-y is it? Here are a few thoughts on the first issue from around the web:
Richard Gray, Behind the Panels: “Following on from his success so far with Sex, another deconstruction of the capes genre, Casey approaches The Bounce with an entirely different set of eyes. While his other Image title is a nuance noir, asking what happens when the thrill of the cape is gone, this title dispenses with the subtlety and spins the concept around 180 degrees. Here the spandex is another in a series of highs, a drug-fuelled odyssey that is almost asking what would have happened if Peter Parker had turned to pot in the aftermath of his uncle’s death. To hammer home this difference, Casey dramatically changes tempo in the second half of the issue, as Jasper seeks out a bigger high, only to find himself literally inhaling a person and winding up inside that aforementioned golden age.” (4/5)
Benjamin Bailey, IGN: “It’s hard to tell exactly what sort of story The Bounce wants to tell. This first issue feels incredibly familiar, like any given superhero book from the past decade. If the hook is ‘It’s like the real world, but with superheroes!’ it ain’t gonna work. We’ve been there, done that. There’s just enough here to bring us back for one more issue, but The Bounce really needs to do something to separate itself from all the other ‘edgy’ superhero books that have come out over the years.” (6.2/10)
Sam LeBas, Multiversity Comics: “Casey directly challenges every preconceived idea you might have about how this story is going to play out. Let’s run down the Cape and Cowl: 101 checklist, and see how far off the beaten path The Bounce takes us. The hero must have a strong motivation, usually hinging on the idea of revenge, or social advocacy. Nope. The hero must be morally resolute, and seek goodness and honor in everything he does. Nuh uh. The hero must sacrifice his own desires and interests in order to do his duty. Nah. The hero must be a powerful figure that others can admire. Not really. Down to the most basic truth of superhero comics; the idea that the good guy always saves the day, these universal truths are quickly dispatched, leaving no room to doubt the novelty of this story.” (8/10)
Greg Burgas, Comics Should Be Good!: “Messina and Niro do a fine job with the artwork – it’s kind of a bit of Terry Dodson, which is never a bad thing in my opinion. The digital coloring, with its shading rather than stark contrast, is never – probably – going to be my cup of tea, but Niro uses both techniques enough to show some nice contrast, and the scene in the club at the end as Jasper slips someplace else is very nice, as the colors work well with the strong pencils. Messina has some nice design work when whatever happens to Jasper happens, and his brief fight with The Crunch is done well, too. There are a lot of white guys in the book, and Messina isn’t great at making them look all that different, but they tend to have different hair styles, so maybe that will work. I’m going to imagine that the style of art in the main part of the book will be contrasted with wherever Jasper ends up, as it looks slightly harder-edged than Jasper’s point of origin, but we’ll see about that later.”
Brian Martin, Culture Mass: “Given a cursory reading, the super hero story itself isn’t all that compelling. Upon second and third reading, though, it starts to become clear that there’s a greater subtext lurking just under the surface, teasing us. Truthfully, the book is sort of middling until the end, at which point everything gets turned on its head. The Bounce leaves you questioning what you’ve seen in its pages, wondering exactly which side of the Veil it all falls on. This ending suggests that perhaps the comic is setting out to make some sort of statement about reality and fiction, blurring the lines between them through the use of substances both legal and otherwise. This may prove insightful in the long run, but for now these intentions are unclear, leaving the comic a bit uneven.” (6.5/10)
Garrett Martin, Paste Magazine: “This first issue does a great job of creating mystery. I want to know what happens from this point. I want to continue reading The Bounce. As a single issue it doesn’t quite hold together, though. It’s a collection of ideas, some good and some bad, strung together without a compelling character or much hint of a direction. In the middle there’s a lengthy soliloquy delivered to a group of military officers by what appears to be a dapper and highly-proficient agent of evil. There’s not much to connect that scene to the rest of the issue beyond a reference to the proliferation of super dudes. As is so often the case, The Bounce already feels like a comic that should be read when fully collected, and not doled out sparingly month by month.”