By Dean Haspiel and Michel Fiffe
If there’s one thing that ties Dean Haspiel and Michel Fiffe’s halves of Brawl together, right the bat, it’s the feeling the reader gets of being somewhat lost in the proceedings. It’s clear by the end of both that, despite the fact that this installment comprises a third of the book’s entire run, you’ve only begun to scratch the surface of either story, and frankly, it’s a bit maddening.
In the case of Haspiel’s end, the mystery can, at least in part, be chalked up to the fact that “Immortal” is but one part in his Billy Dogma trilogy. It’s still quite possible to glean a good deal of enjoyment from the experience, but don’t expect to grasp ever subtle nuance of storyline. Haspiel, for his part, forgoes anything remotely resembling subtlety, by setting the scene with a first panel that finds his grisled protagonist tearing through a second story brick wall.
Billy Dogma largely stomps through the book in a similar manner, a more lovable and less outwardly deformed version of Marv, knocking heart-shaped holes in the sides of cement walls, in search of his lady, with whom he shares a love affair that’s half Sid and Nancy, half Silver Surfer, the latter making blatently clear the Warren Ellis quote that adorns the book’s cover, uttering Haspiel and Kirby’s names in the same short breath.
Fiffe, for his part, seems to have evoked the air of open-ended mystery, for its own sake. This first installment of “Panorama” is a little bit horror movie and a little bit Claremont X-Men, launching us straight into the severely dysfunctional world of Augustus, who, like Dogma, opens his half of the book by falling off the side of a building, and closes his chapter with far more questions than answers.
Both halves are effective in their cliff hangers, though, it should be noted that, unlike the traditional serials, one can easily skip to the end via the Web versions of the stories, which can both be located fairly easily, online, but honestly, where’s the fun in that?
In the press release that accompanied this first issue, Haspiel compares Brawl to Love & Rockets and the Rodriguez/Tarantino team-up, Grindhouse. I’d reach back than that. Haspiel’s lovable brute and Fiffe’s troubled teenaged monster bring to mind some more classic comics influences, as does the method they’ve chosen to package the their stories. And like those old books, there’s the sense of the creators are having a bit of goofy fun (in that sense, the comparison to Grindhouse does indeed feel apt), and when it comes down to it, that’s certainly a cause worthy of devoting a couple of issues worth of cliff-hanging madness to.