Rick Veitch’s The One: The Big Sleep #1
Writer and Artist: Rick Veitch
Colorist: Kirby Veitch
Review by Michael Farris, Jr.
When discussing some of the greatest comic books to come out of the 1980s, Rick Veitch’s classic The One isn’t often included in the conversation. You’ll often hear Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns thrown around a lot—even though The One was published before both. IDW is here to make a case for why The One should be added back into the conversation with a remastered facelift of Rick Veitch’s (of Swamp Thing fame) “last word in superheroics” that will be released in six parts.
The first issue The Big Sleep dumps us right into the thick of things when we find out that a greedy hacker has created an international crisis between Russia and the United States. Hoping to capitalize on humanity’s fear-buying habits, he instead triggers a nuclear war between the two global superpowers…except the outcome is far different than anyone could have imagined. Bright colors flare in the sky, little-to-no casualties are found as a large number of people go into a trance instead, and soon after, some mysterious figures start to show up that are displaying super-human abilities. Meanwhile, with their nuclear arsenals dispensed, Russia and the U.S. are looking for the next superweapon with which they will flex their global influence…bringing us to a potential übermensch vs. übermaus showdown.
I was born right before the 80s ended, so I honestly have no concept of what it was like to live in the Cold War-era of two global powers a fingernail away from nuking each other beyond what I read in the history books and see in the media, but there’s a lot about this comic that felt very relevant to today’s geopolitical climate. Maybe the players have changed, but we’re still seeing a lot of headlines about two egotistical leaders sparring at each other with nuclear arsenals at their back while the rest of us common-folk nervously watch (just kidding, I’m sure no one is nervous about what’s going on in Glorious Leader’s country). The cover that looks like a Tide box is serendipitously relevant too.
I’m also of the opinion that a lot of things about the 80s have a superior quality that we’ve somewhat lost: the movies, the music, the Washington Redskins…jumping into this book made me almost hear the washed-out sounding car horns blaring and the over-the-top fake-yet-terrifying thunder clashing that carry more magic with them than the ultra-realistic sound effects of today.
All this to say, I feel like IDW’s decision to republish this classic story was the right one. It carries the philosophical weight and satirical-yet-darker tones that the aforementioned Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns had in spades. Having never read this series before, I’m eager to not only find out where the story goes but also to see how continually relevant Veitch’s commentary is in today’s world and, even, what type of influence it might have had on its better-known successors. And Veitch’s cartoony, sometimes grotesque artwork compliments the story perfectly.
Buy it! You could probably tell I was going here, but The One: The Big Sleep #1 one really does deserve to be looked at, especially in light of how much things have changed in 30-40 years, but not much has really changed. Whether you’d like to collect this issue-by-issue or as a collected novel, I have a feeling this will be one you’ll want to bring up when your friends are talking about the themes of Watchmen and suddenly you impress them with how much vaster your knowledge is of graphic novel classics. Thanks, IDW, for bringing back a bit of nostalgia for the mavericks and expanding the horizons of the new kids on the block.