March 13th, 2013 | → 1 Comments | ∇ Graphic Novels & Comics |
What’s in a name? My wife and I have just welcomed a Second Sidesy into the world and my wife, being a teacher, was quite insistent on a name that wasn’t going to remind her of some of the less favourable scrotes wading their malodourous way through puberty. Having been raised by comics, films and television, I wanted to go with’ Logan McClane Skywalker’, but that went down like a shit sandwich.
Names evoke imagery of the person in question. And so, when it comes to our favourite comic writers and artists, their names immediately evoke our favourite of their works or their artwork – Warren Ellis (thought-provoking, politically motivated science-fiction), Jim Lee (incredibly detailed, beautifully crafted pencils), Mark Millar (superheroes, some more superheroes). And then there’s Garth Ennis.
As with Warren Ellis, when I see any book with Ennis’ name on it, I’ll buy it without reading the blurb or asking whether it’s any good because you know it will be. Brilliantly realised characters married with gloriously over-the-top visuals, you know you’re in for a good time. And with Stitched, a good time you get but it’s not the best of times.
Based on a story (and the original short film) by Garth Ennis, rather than written by Ennis himself, Stitched is the journey of three American military personnel whose helicopter has crash landed in the Taliban controlled mountains of eastern Afghanistan. With little to no supplies and with one of their number injured, they make their way cross-country to find some form of communication
that would allow them to be rescued. But (*adopt deep, gravel-filled voice*) something is in the mountains with them. Something ancient, something evil, something unrelenting. These are the ‘stitches’, the (you can stop doing the voice now) undead menace that threaten not only the stranded group, but the Taliban that control the area.
And threaten they do, in only ways that Garth Ennis knows how. Blood and gore flow liberally and nobody is safe. After being helped out by three members of an SAS regiment that the Americans were supposed to extract, the group work together to figure out what, or who, is behind the stitches before they all get, um, stitched up.
Although this is Ennis’ story concept, this is very much Avatar regular Mike Wolfer’s baby. His script is fast paced, the action never really letting up from the get go and the dialogue is snappy and drives the story nicely. The setting of ‘something afoot in Afghanistan’, similar to criminally under-rated low-budget sci-fi film The Objective, gives Ennis/Wolfer a platform to explore, albeit it briefly, the current state of the ‘war on terror’, taking the interesting angle of the killing and slavery of the local populace, a topic often ignored in the news headlines in favour of ‘Look At Harry Playing Video Games’.
The artwork is solid, Wolfer’s style very similar to fellow Avatar scribbler Jacen Burrows. I’m an avid fan of this almost European style of work; crisp lines with incredible detail complimented by vibrant colours, these courtesy of Digikore Studios. With this level of detail comes the anatomically correct gore and while not on the same level as the Crossed series, the sheer number of eviscerations in this book would make Tom Savini jealous. It also allows for stunning splash pages of the hostile terrain the group finds themselves in as well as giving us the characters’ honest reactions to the situations they encounter (I always wondered what sort of face someone might pull when having their guts pulled out through their mouth. Now I know).
Stitched is almost like an amalgamation of Ennis’ compelling 303 and clever shock-fest Crossed but not in the same league as his seminal Preacher or, my personal favourite, The Boys. It is however,
a thoroughly entertaining action-horror that benefits to be read as a trade and all at once, ramping up the action and the gore in every issue, leaving you with a quality, well-rounded blood-bath finish. Just make sure you know what you’re getting sewn up the next time you go to the doctors with a cut.
Check out some of the lovely Stitched covers below.
- Pingback: Praise for Garth Ennis’ Stitched — Avatar Press, The Independent Comic Book Publisher Avatar Press on April 4, 2013
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