I’ve not really read much of Eric Powell’s best known work, The Goon, but I’ve liked the little I’ve read but upon seeing the first page of this in previews I was very interested as this is wearing its Will Eisner influences clear for all to see.
It also helps that the story starts in 1979 with an explosive opening that not just establishes tone, but drags you right in as Eisner would in his work as the backstory of our smaller protagonist is established that makes us not only sympathetic to him, but helps establish the past in such a vivid way.
After an attempt to join the American army during the Vietnam War he’s refused entrance but is recruited anyhow for the dirty job of going into Viet Cong tunnels to kill the Cong.
Upon his return to the US, he falls into drinking, drugs and a path that takes him to prison where other inmates see him as an easy target but he’s far from that and is more than able to hold his own.
Big Man Plans is a stunning book, beautifully drawn and uncompromisingly scripted by Powell and his co-writer Tim Wiesch. It looks and reads like a cross between Will Eisner, EC Comics Shock SuspenStories (especially the Wally Wood stories) and 1970’s American crime cinema but with a European style and honesty that I’m not used to seeing in American mainstream comics. It’s brutal but it’s gripping in a way that can’t really be done in film or novels. These are creators using the medium of comics to tell a story that may be a bit pulpy, even cliche, but they’re trying something here by mixing past and present aesthetics in a way that’s turned out a cracking wee story.
This is a four-issue series from Image Comics that I highly recommend. Get it from your nearest shop, or as I did, from Comixology.