Review: American Carnage #8
[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Bryan Hill
Artist: Leandro Fernandez
Colors: Dean White
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Reviewed by: Sean Blumenshine
Bullets fly and blood flows when Richard’s plan to exfiltrate one of Jennifer’s childhood friends from the white nationalist narcotics business goes awry. Meanwhile, Sheila’s new FBI overlord makes his move as DC Vertigo’s acclaimed Los Angeles crime saga continues.
Ben Oliver’s cover is great. The imagery of Jennifer using Richard as an action figure is on the nose but still fun and interesting. The cover is also gorgeous; it’s well drawn and colored.
Jennifer continues to be the most interesting character of the series and the more Bryan Hill focuses on her, the more captivating the book is. Wynn Morgan is an over the top bad guy that is very typical in stories like this but Jennifer is more nuanced than that. The concept of what a person like Wynn would do to a child is interesting. Jennifer feels real and as a result, is a scarier villain than her father. She seems more conscious of her actions and their consequences but still chooses to do them. She’s really messed up but in a way that is interesting to read.
I don’t like the interior art. The characters look awkward to me and it takes me out of the story. I find the art distracting instead of immersive. The colors are appropriately moody and I like the use of shadows but that might be because I don’t have to look at the character’s faces.
I am still unsure why this new FBI agent is a bad thing. Sheila and especially Richard are exceptionally hostile to this guy who wants the same things they do. The FBI wants to help but these two are insistent on doing it themselves even though the plan is going horribly. This plan has yielded zero results other than Richard having sex with a racist who is currently blackmailing him. His motivation seems to be protecting Jennifer but I’m not sure why. She’s cruel to him even to the point of calling him a racial slur. I think he’s in love with her but I can’t really tell which leads to my biggest problem.
Richard is a terrible protagonist. I realized reading this issue how much I don’t like this dude. His initial set up was so interesting. A half black man who never felt like he fit in becoming an undercover agent. That’s fascinating but nothing has been done with it. Richard is just an angry jerk. The only people he’s nice to are the two female characters that he slept with and even that is relatively nice compared to how he treats everyone else. There’s nothing else there; he’s a dick.
This is probably the best issue so far but I’m still not loving it. The increased focus on Jennifer is captivating. She gets more interesting every time we learn something new about her. She’s a great villain who knows the evil of her actions and does them anyway. But there’s no one to roof for. The villains are interesting but horrifically racist while the heroes are boring one note jackasses. Combined with the art that I don’t love, this issue loses a lot of potential.