Writer: Chuck Brown
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Politics gets punchy in On the Stump #1. Set for a February 19, 2020, release, Chuck Brown’s (Black Panther) new comic is for those of us who can’t get enough of ugly politics. And by ugly, I mean an alternate timeline where politicians literally beat the crap out of each other to make public policy. Senator Jack Hammer and Senator “Sweet Smell” Shaw brawl in the “stumps” to decide the future of gene splicing.
Brought to you by half of the Bitter Root creative team, On the Stump #1 is an action comic with room to grow. There’s lots of fun fight scenes, and Hammer is a likeable enough main character to hang the story on. Also, let’s not forget that there’s an ass-kicking FBI agent, Anna Bell, who joins the retired boxer-politician to thwart a plan to legalize murder in the “stumps.”
Though we’re still waiting for a plot that we can sink our teeth into, like with Bitter Root, Brown anchors the drama in meaningful allegory. We can all get behind the notion that self-involved officials would rather wreak violence on the system than get things done. But, unlike the dystopian storytelling of Brian K. Vaughan or Aleš Kot, that point here lacks a context to keep us involved. Therefore, worldbuilding must be Brown’s next step. If it’s not, then this becomes a comic with too many fights and a washed-up-boxer-seeking-redemption cliché for a hero.
I do appreciate a good fight scene, however, and Prenzy’s (#Like4Like) hyper-stylized art gives a satirical edge to the dark politics. The artist also does something interesting that I can’t quite describe with blurry color and texture to make the fight scenes jump off the page. Additionally, Clayton Cowles (The Wicked + Divine), another Bitter Root alum, joins the team for lettering. His style works well with the visuals, and he expertly manages the dialogue-heavy nature of an inaugural issue.
Timed for release in the thick of the presidential primary season, On the Stump #1 is a political thriller with potential. Be sure to check it out.