Let’s be brutally honest — there’s always been something kind of fucked up about Batman, hasn’t there?
Mind you, I say this as someone who loves that character and still reads both major “Bat-books” religiously every month, but come on — here’s a guy with all the money in the world and a deep desire to right all of society’s wrongs, and what does he do? Goes after common street criminals, most of whom are probably both poor and desperate. Meanwhile, the rich are robbing us all blind to a degree most of us can’t even conceive of, and when we complain about it even just a little bit, the wusses at the top of the economic food chain — the ones who own the entire media, the entire political system, and frankly the entire world — these lily-livered, gutless scumbags in $5,000 suits or even more expensive cocktail dresses accuse us lowly serfs of engaging in “class warfare.”
Never mind the largely- unremarked-upon, but very successful, class war that they have been waging against us for the past few decades by looting our pension funds, stripping away our collective bargaining rights, raising the cost of our educations through the roof, kicking the poorest of us off welfare while sticking their fat, disgusting snouts into the public trough and hogging up all the “corporate welfare” they can get, cutting their own taxes down to the bone, jacking our health care premiums up exponentially so they can pocket the extra cash — their rapacious greed knows no limits, and frankly if Batman had any balls whatsoever he’d be going after his own kind, because these sons of bitches make even The Joker look small-time by comparison.
Fortunately, Kaare Kyle Andrews and his new (dammit, I’ll say it) hero, Renato Jones, are here to finally bring down the real villains of the world by any means necessary. Indeed, the front cover for issue one of Image Comics’ Renato Jones: The One % openly states “The Super Rich Are Super F***ed,” and the minute I saw that, I knew this title was going straight onto my pull list. It’s nice to see there might be some justice in the world, I suppose, even if it’s only on the comic book page.
These aren’t just any old pages, though, as the double-splash reproduced above shows — they’re gorgeous pages. Andrews’ most recent series, Marvel’s Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, certainly showed that he was willing to step up and claim the mantle of the industry’s leading heir to Jim Steranko’s artistic legacy, but fortunately his Steranko stylistic appropriations were more homage than direct swipe. That trend continues here, as you’d no doubt expect, but Andrews also incorporates a fair number of elements from one of Steranko’s earlier (if largely unacknowledged) admirers/unofficial pupils, Frank Miller. Indeed, the B&W pages interspersed throughout this debut issue are torn right from the Sin City playbook, but they’re included to add variety and nuance to the proceedings and are hardly the “backbone” of the book. No, that distinction belongs to awesome-looking shit like this:
What’d I tell you (or try to, at any rate)? Despite wearing his influences on his sleeve, Andrews’ style is uniquely his own. And uniquely kick-ass. As is his new creator-owned character, who was born into wealth and privilege, narrowly escaped death at the hands of his money-grubbing aunt at age three, lived on the streets, learned to survive by his own wits and fight like a man possessed, came back to take his revenge, and now is out to bring his, in the words of Warren Ellis, “Punisher from Occupy”- brand of vigilantism to all the rich, sadistic, evil bastards who have it coming. If, ya know, he’s even Renato Jones at all. Which he might not be. And you should really read the book to understand exactly what that means.
And hey, how about the fake ads scattered here and there in this comic? They’re flat-out awesome, too! And so is the depraved villain that Jones despatches in this story! And so is Andrews’ razor-sharp dialogue and pump-your-fist-at-how-spot-on-it-is “voice-over” narration! And so is, well — everything, really. Look, anyone who’s read my reviews for any length of time knows that I’m not the easiest guy to please, but seriously — there was nothing about the story or art here that I felt to be lacking, and each successive page just cemented my opinion that this is a comic that I’ve been waiting a long time for, even if I didn’t know it. Of course, I did used to have this poster hanging in my apartment back when I was in my twenties:
So, yeah, me and the class wars, we go back a long ways. And the future is finally starting to look kinda bright between the rise of movements like the aforementioned Occupy and the Bernie Sanders campaign and the emergence of pop culture characters like Renato Jones. My one bone to pick with this book — and it’s a small one — is that Andrews (who really is a one-man show here writing, drawing, coloring, designing, creating and, crucially, owning the whole thing), after 30-some pages of taking it to the rich bastards (did I mention this was an extra-sized issue that gives you great value for it’s $3.99 cover price?), loaded up his first letters column with missives from — his wealthy and famous friends like Sean Astin and Tegan And Sara? Seems a bit curious to me, to say the least, but I’m not gonna let it dampen my enthusiasm for this project one little bit, nor should you. In fact, you should go read Renato Jones: The One % #1 right now — I’ll meet you in the street with a pitchfork and a torch afterwards, and we’ll go pay a visit to those assholes in the mansions who live behind the gates.