Review: The Beef #1
Written by: Richard Starkings & Tyler Shainline
Art & Colours: Shaky Kane
Letters: Richard Starkings
Publisher: Image Comics
Image Comics’ latest offering will, no doubt, have made you sit up and take notice. At the very least, you may have just stopped and stared; then, like that time you got caught staring at a guy with a deformed nose, you either pluck up the courage to ask ‘What happened to your nose?’ or you bury your head in a paper and pretend the huge deformity is perfectly normal and you’re cool with it. Because you’re the cool one whose always cool with stuff, right? Wrong. You should always ask about the nose because if you don’t, you never get to witness the hideously beautiful imperfections that lie just beneath the surface of your ephemeral coolness. The Beef is the guy with the nose. It’s also too many more other cliche statements than I care to repeat; the itch you can’t scratch, the diamond in the rough, etc etc. Maybe I’m being a little trite here but if you still need convincing, let’s take a closer look inside.
The book revolves around a backwater town in a sunny middle America state where cattle is king. Our protagonists are the children of the beef industry where local parents in some shape or form bust a gut at the local slaughterhouse, or associated business. Where the tale comes to life is when a pair of kids, who happen to be related to the slaughterhouse owner, continue a beef with our protagonists.
Fast forward a few years and the owner’s son, K-Bob, is a fully fledged adult bully and all round despicable creature who feels he’s earned the right to take what he wants and how he wants it. The limits of the vendetta are stretched when our protagonist intervenes when a female is harassed, and the cliffhanger ending will most definitely lead to the purchase of issue #2. The writing throughout is at once nostalgic, using our memories of lazy Summer-time demi-adventures, and horrific as we witness the small-town bully trope emerge leaving us oozing empathy for his victims. Moving the plot forward a few years was a solid move as it offered just enough insight into the grudge but effectively placed it in a time and situation much more sinister than the world of kids rolling in the grass should be. Speaking of sinister, the visual triggers alluding to death, murder and general blood-letting may at first seem normal as any story set within the walls of a Texan style town with a penchant for meat, however, this backdrop only eats away at our sensitivities the more we face it. A slaughterhouse becomes symbolic of our inevitable servitude in society where we as workers are only one rung higher than the cattle themselves, in the pecking order. I was left feeling glad that I don’t taste good. Or do I?
The artwork in the book is sensational. Starting with the insanely adorable, slap in the face cover art which creates a sense of fun as well as making a bold statement of intent, the artistic team have created, I would argue, a unique feel. The gonzo-inspired art is brash in its use of a wildly bold colour palate. This coupled with a fine pencilling hand leaves a clean look which is full of winning colour contrasts. The extra definition leavings the book with an Andy Warholesque vibe which feels quite special. Also worth mentioning are the facial features which range from the cartoon-like, such as Peta supporting Andy, to the hideously gonzoesque K-Bob. I couldn’t help but stop and stare at each character as each falls foul of their own depictions. This is middle-America, warts n’all.
This is a book I would find difficult to pigeon-hole so I’ve veered well away from trying. I’d go as far as saying it’s got a seriously wide appeal and has the feel of a book that will be much, much bigger when word gets out. It will appeal to fans of Charles Burns and The Hernandez Bros. but actually it’s got sinister, horror threads that go far deeper than some of the hack and slash titles I’ve read recently. It’s also a tale of growing up surrounded by toxicity in one form or another. This sounds like an everyman title but actually it’s a lot more intelligent than that. Buy It. 8.5/10
Skully’s Corner: Why buy this book? I remember what it was like, stuffing my face with burger after burger, beef patty after beef patty. Then one day I realised the Hindus had the right idea. Respect. Now, I just don’t need the protein anymore…anyhoos, this is better than the best burger I ever had; it’s juicy, filling, I relish it and, er, you should buy it. It’ll taste like nothing you’ve had before.
Thank you for reading our review of The Beef #1. We here at the Chico Comics Page appreciate your viewership. We invite you to check back with us soon as we post often. Or, you can follow us on Facebook (The Chico Comics Page), Google+ (The Chico Comics Page) and Twitter (@ChicoComicsPage) for regular updates on all of our posts.
Review written by Arun S.
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