Current Reviews


Scatterbrain #4

Posted: Tuesday, October 3, 2006
By: Adam Volk

Writer: Brendan Deneen
Artist: Szymon Kudranski

Publisher: Markosia

Plot: In the rundown slums of the Devil’s Hopyard, Detective Jack Anderfold continues his obsessive hunt for the costumed vigilante known as Scatterbrain. But as Jack digs deeper into Scatterbrain's origins, he discovers a shocking revelation and faces a final confrontation that will alter the lives of both men forever…

Comments: When it comes to the comic book industry, smaller publishers often end up screwed more times than in a Paris Hilton porno video. While the Big Two devour the majority of the market-pie, indie publishers are often left with the crumbs. That's not to say we shouldn't read DC and Marvel (let's face it, both companies are producing their best work in years), but it's equally important to support the little guys producing innovative, quality work. Fortunately there's something you can do to help: Buy a goddamn independent comic book already!

Need a recommendation? Try Scatterbrain #4, the final issue of the much acclaimed mini-series from up-and-coming British based Markosia Comics. The series finale picks up with Detective Jack Anderfold hot on the trail of the vigilante known only as Scatterbrain; a costumed anti-hero with super speed and strength and the psychic ability to channel fear. The case however, has become far more complicated than Jack anticipated after Scatterbrain returns from the dead after his apparent murder in issue #2. Uncertain of whether or not the "new" Scatterbrain is a genuine reincarnation or simply another individual adopting his costumed mantle, Jack follows a lead to the Devil’s Hopyard University. It's there that he discovers a covert genetic experiment and comes face to face with a government researcher who may hold the answers to Scatterbrain's existence.

Meanwhile, Jack's wife Hannah is struggling with her own faltering career as a photojournalist and is given one final chance to redeem herself. Her assignment: discover the truth about Scatterbrain. To further complicate matters Hannah's affair with Jack’s partner Hank, is reaching critical mass as both her personal and professional life slowly begin to crumble around her.

As Jack and Hannah each pursue their own avenues of investigation into Scatterbrain's past, the disfigured super-villain known as the Shroud learns of his costumed nemesis' miraculous resurrection. The Shroud quickly orders his masked protégé, The Skeleton, to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, The Skeleton also happens to be Jack’s only son Kyle, who is struggling to retain some shred of humanity despite his newfound criminal profession.

As the final pieces of the puzzle fall into place, the stage is set for a final confrontation involving Hannah, Kyle, Jack, the Shroud and Scatterbrain himself. What follows is an incredible ending, with a surprise twist that makes The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense seem like Mary Poppins.

Indeed, Scatterbrain #4 is a near-perfect conclusion to one of the most original superhero series in years. The story demonstrates the true potential of comic books as a medium and like Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina and Kurt Busiek's Astro City, Scatterbrain isn’t so much about superheroes as it is about human beings. The characters of Scatterbrain are flawed, scarred, at times even reprehensible, but that's what makes them so fascinating. It's this touch of dramatic realism that makes the book work, and Deneen displays an incredible aptitude for blending the familiar themes of the superhero genre with an intense character driven story. It's equally impressive that Deneen is able to create a story as complex, ambitious and ultimately satisfying as Scatterbrain, in a mere four issues.

Fortunately, Deneen’s innovative script is ideally suited to the unusual and textured work of artist Szymon Kudranski. Kudranski’s dark colours and washed out tones create an appropriately bleak and unsettling atmosphere to the Devil's Hopyard. Kudranski’s style isn’t likely to be found in most mainstream comics, but it works perfectly in Deneen’s dark and violent world.

Ultimately, Scatterbrain #4 is an incredible conclusion to one of the most intriguing new series of the year. If you're a fan of well written superhero comics and haven't been reading Scatterbrain, you owe it to yourself to pick up the back issues (or hopefully Markosia will release a collected trade in the near future). Because when all is said and done, the only disappointing element in Scatterbrain is that it has to end...

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