By: Benjamin Marra (writer, artist, letters….everything)
The Story: It’s time for political satire as sexy NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd tries to get the scoop that will take down the Bush administration and still make it to her date with George Clooney.
What’s Good: This comic is a real indy gem. And, this is “indy” in the truest sense as Benjamin Marra writes and self-publishes his own stuff through his imprint, Traditional Comics. If you love political satire, you are going to love this comic that takes time to poke fun at Republicans and Democrats alike.
The very first scene is a great capsule of what to expect in this comic. The opening page shows Ms. Dowd enjoying her morning coffee in full, sexy lingerie get-up with a pistol tucked into the top of the thigh-highs. Thought bubbles show her thinking about how she has to get a source who can implicate the Bush administration in the outing of CIA operative, Valerie Plame, but she also has to get to her dinner date with George Clooney. Then, out of nowhere, an assassin busts into her home and a James Bond-style battle ensues over her laptop computer complete with over-the-top intentionally campy dialog. It’s just wonderful.
Of course, this is hilarious because while Ms. Dowd doesn’t go on TV in real life wearing lingerie (of course), you do get the impression that she probably does kinda enjoy her status of being an attractive woman in a niche filled with fat bald men and frumpy women commentators. And if you’re going to run with that satire thought train, it makes perfect sense that she would be dating George Clooney, noted playboy and lion of the celebrity wing of the Democratic party. Finally, Marra couldn’t have picked a better scandal that the Democrats foamed at the mouth over and the Republicans yawned at than the entire Valerie Plame affair (even if it is a bit dated now).
But, the Republicans aren’t safe in this comic either. Ms. Dowd is 100% the hero of this story as she tries to use her feminine wiles to get a spineless Scooter Libby (remember him?) to spill the dirt on Karl Rove and Dick Cheney (who come off as right-wing nutjobs). The whole affair is just a exercise in the insanely ridiculous as Ms. Dowd dodges bullets, engages in shoot outs with assassins working for a Blackwater-like agency and, of course, tries to get to her date with George Clooney (which she mentions about every other panel in the comic).
Marra’s black and white art is effective as hell. He has a unique style and while he probably won’t be winning an Eisner as best artist anytime soon, his storytelling ability is just top-notch. I almost wish more of the big-name artists would stop fussing with making a beautiful image and just tell us a story. All that being said, I’d bet that Marra learned to draw by sketching sexy women because he draws a very beautiful female form.
What’s Not So Good: I dunno, not much for me. Maybe political satire isn’t your thing. If you’re not plugged into politics, you’re not going appreciate the jokes. Likewise, if you are too married to either the left or the right politically, you might be offended as Marra undresses your heroes (sometimes literally).
The only technical issue I have with Marra’s comics are his faces. His figures are otherwise very solid, but his faces look a little odd. It is probably most striking when he draws an attractive woman because the contrast of the beautiful form with the odd face is a little weird. On the other hand, his faces are incredibly unique. You see a Marra face and you know instantly what you are reading.
Conclusion: An incredible GEM of an indy comic. Right up there with Rambo 3.5 as my favorite political satire comics of the year. If you’re looking to broaden your horizons a little and read something that is truly “independent” head over to Mr. Marra’s website and pick up a copy of this comic. You won’t be sorry and even if you don’t love it as much as I do, you’ll be a better comics reader for the experience.