It’s pretty clear at this point that Nick Spencer is the Next Big Thing in comics. All of his books seem to have gotten lodged in that space in the reader’s mind that recently was occupied by creators like Jonathan Hickman (now on his way from NBT status to genuine stardom), Matt Fraction (a bonafide star) and Brian Michael Bendis (a former star, now a shadow of his old self–except on Ultimate Spider-Man–I still like him on that).
Like all of his predecessors as NBT, Spencer brings a genuinely unique and exciting eye to his work that can’t help but grab readers. Morning Glories is a non-stop thrill ride of inverted pop culture clichés, while Spencer’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is drawing raves for the way that it presents hyperkinetic hero action in an equally hyperkinetic and exciting manner.
I wonder if Forgetless will be remembered in a few years as Spencer’s oddball project, the bizarre early comic that’s kind of an outlier compared with the work he’ll be producing in 2014 or 2015, when he’s suddenly become a tired old hack in the minds of some readers, while the next Next Big Thing is storming the industry.
Forgetless is kind of a crazy, urban shaggy dog story for the YouTube and Twitter era–a freewheeling story that seems to hop from bizarre event to bizarre event with a surprising amount of apparent randomness. This book is literally the kind where, if you get bored, you should just wait a few pages because something will soon happen that will practically demand you keep reading–which is the exact reaction I had when reading this book the first time through.
As I was placing the book in my bag to read during my 40-minute ride to work in the morning, I was thinking the book sounded like a fun time-killer. I got to the end of the first chapter in this collection and felt a bit bored by the lush-but-flat coloring in that chapter and by the fun-but-slightly-clichéd story of supermodels recruited to become hitwomen. I can’t quite point to another comic that’s exploited that idea, but at the very least it seems so obvious that it’s shocking that nobody else has ever thought of it (if indeed no one has).
However, then chapter two started and I found that the art style changed completely, to a kind of urban sarcastic energetic style as the story switched to a pair of guys who have become famous on the Internet for their show I’m Gonna F*** It. These guys are far from being supermodels, but their crazy escapades and shocking actions seem hilarious and just plain wrong.
Despite my more noble side, I completely got lost in the juvenile, Jackass style actions of the two guys, and I got carried away in the bizarre events depicted in this book.
Bizarre is a bit weak as a descriptive word for this book. It’s plain insane–involving a TV talk show host, a koala outfit, some murders, some shoplifting, some bad music, and much, much more. It’s a lot like the strangest date you’ve ever been on, only crazier.
By the time I got midway through the book, I was completely caught up in it–and hoping the guy sitting next to me wasn’t looking over my shoulder as I read it. The book does have some sex and violence (and the koala suit figures in both), but this book also has a real feeling of life and energy to it–a rebellious, youthful attitude of “screw you all” that made me breathlessly inhale this story.
It also feels very much of its time, with the snide comments posted on Twitter and the way that the boys in the book chase glory on YouTube. In a few years, these elements will all feel dated–like references to MySpace and blogging feel now–but isn’t that part of the fun of a book like this one?
One day, when Nick Spencer has as many graphic novels on the shelf as Ed Brubaker, and you feel like you know his unique writing quirks inside-out–you may look back on this book as a bit of crazy youthful indiscretion. You will remember it as one last bit of Spencer’s out-and-out youthful rebellion before he settled down a bit. For right now, though, as we prepare for the arrival of 2011, it’s an awesome ride from the industry’s Next Big Thing.