REVIEW: Fat-Man and Ribbon #0

It seems my regular schedule of creator-owned comic reviews has been thrown out of whack with all the goodies I picked up at Glasgow Comic Con a couple of weeks back.  This week’s offering is Fat-Man and Ribbon #0, another comic from local Glasgow talent, writer Martin Ferguson and artist Andrew Docherty.  As the title would suggest, it plays as a parody of Batman and Robin.  But is there more to this comic than a pithy title?

Plot-wise, not much happens here.  The comic’s narrative basically amounts to a single fight scene, with a possible teaser of the actual plot ready to get picked up with issue #1.  But with an issue marked as #0, a teaser is really all you’re expecting, I suppose.  What Martin Ferguson does give us here, however, is a nice dose of characterisation.  With a fictional city called Metro-Scotia, it’s pretty clear this is a Scottish tale, and Fat-Man and Ribbon do basically come across as a couple of Glesga chaps up for a bit of the banter, only they happen to be superheroes.  I also found it a relief to see just how little of the humor – beyond the name – is derived from directly parodying the Batman mythos.  Instead, Ferguson has the skill to fuel the comedy with slapstick and quips.

But the real revelation here is the artwork of Andrew Docherty.  Brimming with zany energy that keeps the book zipping along nicely, Docherty’s highly-rendered style, with its close-ups of unusual, angular faces, put me in mind of the work of Bernie Wrightson in the 70s or Sam Keith in the 80s, and a few of the contemporaries that they influenced.  It’s a style that’s not so common now, but which gives the book an added charm and uniqueness.  It’s not a style you might commonly associate with a superhero book, and is all the better for it.  Some of his heightened facial expressions are just comedy gold.

If I had any suggestion to make, it might be that the book would benefit from the inclusion of colour.  It’s all black-and-white and grayscale, even the cover, and while I don’t object to black-and-white comics, there’s something about the superhero genre in particular, I feel, that just doesn’t feel quite complete without a splash of vibrant colour.  On the flipside, color might blot out some of Docherty’s lovely rendering, and I wouldn’t like to lose that either.  It’s a dilemma!

Overall, I’d probably say it’s too early to judge Fatman and Ribbon one way or the other.  What we get here is essentially a teaser.  But thanks to Andrew Docherty, it’s a teaser that’s a joy to look at.  I’m certainly sold on sampling what Martin Ferguson has to offer once he starts his story proper with Fatman and Ribbon #1.

Fat-Man and Ribbon is available locally in shops in Glasgow.

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