ADVANCE REVIEW! Freakshow #1 is on sale now, but Freakshow #2 will come out on April 27, 2011
Freakshow has ruined me as far as post-apocalyptic comics go. I’m completely enchanted by the tragedy of this storyline; the writers really make you feel for the characters. “They don’t want to be heroes” was the most memorable quote out of the two issues. It really drove home that these men aren’t interested in saving the world from disaster — they’re interested in revenge and finding a place to belong. The leader even states that their mission isn’t to help people, it’s to destroy the root of suffering. Because this fundamental goal is different from most series, I was instantly hooked. While issues of Freakshow don’t come out very often, I’m more than willing to wait for another mind-blowing installment rather than read something that’s hastily thrown together with a transparent plot.
Catastrophe strikes when a chemically designed mutagen that unlocks human evolutionary potential is unleashed and an explosion decimates the city, killing Vanguard, the world’s only superhero savior. The Smoke was made to scramble a person’s DNA and killed thousands in the first hour, but approximately 30% of the population was found to be immune and an even smaller amount survived the mutation and to become sentient monsters.
The main characters are a five-man team bent on revealing the truth behind the Smoke and getting revenge for the lives of those lost — including their own. Stronghold, the leader of their rag tag group, mutated into a giant who, despite his size and strength, rules them cunningly. Rot lives up to his nickname — his skin decay gives him a zombie-like appearance, but he can spray an acid liquid on his victims. Fog’s exactly what he sounds like and rather testy about his lack of a body, but he can use his incorporeal form as both cover for the team and to poison anyone he crosses. Psychosis’ name also gives a hint to his power: he creates illusions in a person’s mind to be used as a distraction.
The last member of the team is called Critter. While he’s probably the most human looking of the five, he still developed some nasty skin problems, claws and a scorpion-like tail. It’s hard to say if his quick reflexes were a cause of the mutation or if he was just that flexible and quick before the disaster. Critter has the hardest time killing people and endangers the group several times because of it. In that respect, he’s probably the weakest link. It’s mentioned that Critter replaced a former member that they called Wraith, but we don’t learn much about him other than he shared Critter’s soft side for the humans.
Suitor’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous. He has a talent to fit in as much detail as possible without making the panel look crowded. Certain characters, like Rot, have so many lines and detail added to every aspect of their entire being. There’s also consistency across the board right down to how many ribs you can see through the hole in Rot’s side. It’s obvious that a great deal of time and effort was put into every drawing. One of my favorite parts was a close-up of the doctor experimenting on the Smoke, Gaghen’s, face. The elated, evil determination was easily readable in his facial expression, so much so that I recoiled from the page. Even the little things — the lines of his face that gave him an older appearance and the crookedness of his slightly yellowed teeth — screamed of a corrupt character. There were a few elements of comedy that I appreciated as well, like the fact that Psychosis wears a straightjacket with a yellow smiley face plastered on the front or the differences in Fog’s face masks depending on his mission (he gets really upset if his masks get messed up).
There’s no indication of laziness in making either the artwork or the plot, and that shines through. Both issues were a clear indication of the perfect teamwork by the creators. Freakshow has a little bit of everything: disaster, tragedy, genetic mutations, revenge, crazy doctors, mystery, friendship and that gray area of right and wrong. In a short time — I believe the first issue came out roughly six months ago and the second comes out April 27 — this series has rapidly become one of my favorites and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in comics.