ADVANCE REVIEW: THE SCUMBAG is a strong first issue with a deeply flawed “hero”

Writer: Rick Remender, Artist: Lewis Larosa, Colours: Moreno Dinisio, Letters: Rus Wooton.

Meet Earnie. He is the chosen one, destined to save the entire world from absolute annihilation…oh no, wait, he just chose to take the wrong drug. Earnie Ray Clementine, is a sexist drug addicted, foul mouthed…scumbag. After trying his best to score some drugs, he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. A secret agent is battling against one of the scorpionus (a team who want to destroy the world). Earnie picks up a drug dropped by the agent and decides to do exactly what he’s used to. This however is no recreational drug; it gives you powers...powers that are needed to stop the impending doom from bombs that will go off. However with no one else around, Earnie is now the only hope for the world…our fates rest with this utter…scumbag.

In a letter at the end of the book, writer Remender talks about the rise of the antihero within pop culture: Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper, and one of my favourites, Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski. However, with this book, as I’m sure you can tell by the title, he goes further than they could. The differences between them so far are their morals and their code of conduct. The others may be disrespectful (Don), a criminal mastermind (Walter), a tough no nonsense mob boss (Tony), and a free living not got a care in the world (The Dude), however they still have respect for certain traditions or values. Earnie doesn’t have anything like that. This is what makes this character interesting. He’s a perfectly written disgusting person. Throughout the issue I was even starting to feel sorry for him, but then he does something that reminds me how I can’t feel that sorry.

In a beautiful yet disgusting page, we get this as one of four panels, describing and showing off Earnie in his full “glory”. Told that the deep wrinkles in his face are well earned. We are told in just those few words that he is a man of a sordid past with many tales to tell. We can also see it in the stunning artwork by Larosa, so very lifelike. The colours are beautifully crafted by Dinisio, the shading on his face is so detailed that I felt like I was next to the character. I want to say it’s a pleasure to see this beautiful art, but some of the things that happen in the book are not for the faint at heart. So when the art is so good and detailed, it makes the disturbing actions even more grotesque.

This book is one that conflicts within me. I want to say this is fantastically written, and it is, but it tears me apart that I hate this character. Obviously we are meant to, which proved how well written it is. Same goes for the artwork and colouring, it’s so detailed that it sickens me when you see a character have projectile diarrhea. It’s all part of the point to the story. You’re meant to both feel sorry and yet also loathe Earnie, so the team have done a fantastic job at portraying such a despicable character, and doing it in a way that’s so beautiful makes it even more torturous.

This issue was very heavy on character development, so we don’t get too much of the story, so I’m hoping for a bit more plot in the next issue. As we have seen the bad guy become the good guy a lot over the past few years, I’m hoping there will be more of a twist than just how depraved Earnie is. Although I can’t be too critical as this was a very strong issue #1.

Scumbag # 1 from Image Comics is on sale 21st October at your local comic shop as well as comixology

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