Current Reviews


Jack Staff #9

Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2005
By: Kelvin Green

Writer/Artist: Paul Grist
Colours: Craig Conlan

Publisher: Image Comics

Jack Staff is a wonderful comic, and Paul Grist is one of comics' most brilliant storytellers, and yet the title sells in relatively tiny numbers. So I've not only been awaiting a new issue so that I can read the goodness for myself, but also so that I can extoll the virtues of the comic here at SBC. Unfortunately, this most recent issue really isn't the best showcase of what's so great about Jack Staff.

The resolution of the Kapitan Krieg plot works quite well, and Grist displays his usual strong writing skills with a chapter that both brings the plot to a satisfying climax and leaves behind a number of compelling questions. However, the other main plot this issue, dealing with hard-nosed copper Maveryk's hunt for a killer, veers more toward the unanswered questions end of the spectrum, and as a result makes for a rather unimpressive end to that storyline. It's unclear what the point of the story was, or how it is supposed to tie into the rest of the Jack Staff universe; given that Grist's writing has in the past been characterised by tight and intricate plotting, this vague and murky resolution is all the more disappointing. It's quite possible that it's not a resolution at all, and there's more to come, but it certainly reads like the end of a chapter at least, and it doesn't work for me.

What does work for me is the art, which is again up to Grist's usual fine standards. His simple cartoony style seems to belie an intimate understanding of the medium; layouts and pacing, storytelling and characterisation are all absolutely spot on, making for a comic that while lacking in flashy overdone visuals, is nonetheless a joy to look at. That said, Grist can do flashy and epic when he wants to, and there are some wonderful images here, perhaps made all the more impressive by Grist's understanding that simplicity and subtlety are effective techniques in themselves; his use of negative space and simple geometric shapes are just as effective as the most intricately rendered special effects in other comics.

And I come to the end of the review and find myself almost contradicting my opening paragraph; this isn't the best issue of Jack Staff I've read, but I've still given it four bullets out of the possible five, and that should tell you how good this comic usually is.

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