Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: The Manipulations
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colored by: Carrie Strachan
Lettered by: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Scott Dunbier
This is a difficult book to review. Mostly because there are only so many ways you can tell people it is an excellent read. After that, it is all just repetition. But repeat I must.
Holden is finally getting back to his feet after the death of Genocide, the wedge that has been driven between he and Miss Misery by virtue of them falling in love (and you thought you and your significant other had it rough), and the return of Lynch from Comaville. He still finds himself in between Tao and Lynchs machinations (or manipulations to mimic this chapter’s title), but he is giving playing the game himself a go for the first time in awhile…or perhaps ever.
This is, of course, not to say that Holden still isn’t very messed up. It turns out that his speech to Vanessa last issue was not merely a ploy to get rid of her, but it truly reflects his state of mind. He is done being loyal to anyone or anything beyond his own selfish goals. In essence, he has become another Lynch or Tao, beholden to no moral code, no overarching sense of duty. The fact that he so thoroughly believes this, although we as the readers hold out hope that he is only fooling himself, is chilling. And the perfect evolution of a character that has been seriously kicked around for 15 issues now.
I would be remiss not to mention the bar scene. I won’t spoil it here beyond saying that Holden’s broken Arabic is very funny in a darkly comedic way and his reasons for spouting it are brutally self loathing. His inner monologue concerning a staple gun are also pretty damn amusing in the same way.
Everyone on this title is doing bang up work, from the writing on down. This is a well oiled machine of comic goodness. If you are not reading this book, you are only hurting yourself.
The Final Word: This book is just sitting on the shelf waiting for you to pay for it. Let’s get on that, okay?