By: Charles Soule (writer), Renzo Podesta (art) and Shawn Depasquale (letters)
The Story: Garland, the guitarist who lost the use of his playing hand & gained some funky powers in the first 4-issue miniseries, is back to try to reclaim his stardom.
Background: I really enjoyed the first 27 miniseries as it followed the arc of a famous guitarist who is struck down by losing the use of one of his hands at the age of 27. Through a number of attempts to heal himself, he takes part in this arcane procedure that leaves him with something that looks kinda like an amp stuck into his chest. Supposedly the deal is that he can push the buttons 27 times and gain some kind of genius level super-power (like the ability to play brilliantly again or write the best song ever), but after he pushes the button the 27th time, he’ll die. The trouble is that he pushed the buttons an unknown number of times before he knew the deal, so he isn’t sure how many he has left. Oh, and there’s this hook tying everything to numerology and the gods of creativity. It was really all quite clever, funky and touching and a couple of the issues were my pick of the week.
What’s Good: So, I was glad to see it come back for more. We see that Garland’s attempt to regain his stardom by learning to play left-handed isn’t going so well and he’s still kinda a dick. In fact, he’s always been a dick, but he was able to skate by on genius-level talent before. Now that the talent is gone, his dickish behavior is coming back to bite him in the ass. No one seems to want to cut him any slack. What Soule and Podesta do very well is somehow dance on the edge of Garland being an unlikeable character without having the reader hates him. If he was a cheerful dude who everyone wanted to help, this wouldn’t be a very compelling series, but it also wouldn’t work if Garland was just unlikable. He’s more one of those guys who you’re rooting for to get his crap together and stop dumping on people who try to help him out. Somehow they manage to pull this off.
The funky mystical stuff takes somewhat of a backseat in this issue, but it still ends up with Garland getting his buttons pushed. What happens in the ensuing events seems to be key to the arc of this series.
Podesta’s art is again really nice. This is a dark story, so the art is fittingly dark and he uses a more cartooning style that communicates characters mood and body language much better than a more realistic style would.
Also, if you’re not a fan of the live music scene, don’t use that as an excuse to stay away from this series. I think people who prattle on about live music are about as interesting as people who talk about golf all the time and I still really love the series.