Comic Review - Choker #1


Choker #1 is the first installment of a six-issue Image Comics miniseries, which is written by Ben McCool, and illustrated by Ben Templesmith. The 32-page comic was released is released on February 24th, 2010, and costs $3.99.

Please note, that a limited amount of issues of the comic were sold to the public on February  10th, before a printing error meant that the copies had to be recalled. Subsequently, the reprinted version will be available to buy on February 24th (see here for more details).

The Story

Choker is a hardboiled noir fable, set against an unconventional backdrop. Johnny “Choker” Jackson, is an ex-Shotgun City police detective who lives in his own rendition of hell. His case of Alien Hand Syndrome has manifested into the most psychotic entity on the planet, he’s stuck working at a deadbeat detective agency, and he’s engaged in a squalid and involuntary amour with an otherworldly creature that dwells beneath his bathtub. That, believe it or not, is just for starters.

But there’s prospective light at the end of the tunnel: a high-profile con Johnny once put behind bars is at large, and not even the city’s elite has been able to track the sleazebag down. The police department has offered Johnny a deal: put the rogue back in his below regulation-sized cell and he’s got a job for life. However, it comes at a price, and it’s one nobody will see coming. But if you want something, and want it real bad, what would you be willing to do to get it?

The Rating

Choker is hardboiled detective fiction, but unlike anything you’ve seen before from this well-worn genre. The story is set in a dystopia, where crime is so rampant that the regular police force has been replaced by troops of enhanced officers, who carry brutality licenses, which allow them to violently beat suspects, on the streets in broad daylight. The city is filled with mutants and freaks, and the sex culture has run wild, with sex clubs everywhere, and auto-wanking machines in the middle of the street. It’s grim, it’s gritty, and it’s an incredibly compelling backdrop to tell a story against. It’s a great piece of world building by McCool and Templesmith, and sets the tone for the whole story.

This isn’t Ben McCool’s first comic work, but it is his first creator owned project, and as such, it’s an incredibly strong debut, with an engaging premise, and some wonderful writing. Obviously, being the first issue, we’ve only seen a fraction of the plot, the central idea of the ex cop getting his badge back may have been done before, but there are some subtle changes to the premise, which inject it with tons of originality. Other than that,  also get some glimpses of things to come, with a scene of a woman being held in captivity, and the rise of a strange new drug craze, which is sure to cause a hell of a lot of trouble later on. We only get a small taste of these horrors, as if McCool were tantalizing us with the promise of madness to come. He’s building up suspense, which is something that you don’t see too much these days, with everyone needing instant gratification. The characters are all very well developed, and Jackson himself is a really identifiable protagonist, who despairs of what has become of both his own life and the world in which he lives, and he’ll do anything to get his old life back. The dialogue is all very believable and natural, and Jackson’s inner monologue is interesting and captivating. In fact, that’s something that I wanted to drawn attention to, as I previously noted the style of the comic as being ‘hardboiled’, but what makes this comic so special is that instead of trying to be hardboiled, it just is, by its very nature. Why this is good is that the story avoids many of the trapping of the genre, such as the overuse of exposition, which is something that I can’t stand! It’s some really impressive writing from McCool, and I can’t wait to see more!

Ben Templesmith does all the artwork on the comic, as well as the issue’s cover. Templesmith has a very distinctive style, which I find difficult to describe, not having an artistic background. However, I find that his artwork is incredibly detailed in places, but in other spots, if can be almost sketchy , for example, on background characters etc. His character work is astounding, with all of his characters having such a wide range of beautifully rendered facial expressions; at times, it’s almost as if you can tell what the character is thinking, just by looks on their faces! His use of colour is something else that sets him apart from the crowd, as he often seems to wash each page in one or two colour tone, adding to that scene’s atmosphere.  It’s something that I really love about his work, and often seems to give scenes an almost ethereal quality. Of course, Templesmith is probably mostly well known for his horror work, and there are some horror scenes in this issue, only a couple, but the ones we do get are gruesome, gory, horrific, and creepy as hell! It’s Ben Templesmith, the man can make even seemingly innocuous scenes into something to make the spine tingle. If you give him something horrible to draw, you better be prepared for the results. Here’s hoping that McCool has some really nasty stuff scripted for the following issues…

Choker #1 is an incredibly strong debut issue that will hook you for the entire series. McCool and Templesmith have crafted something brilliant and unique that is sure to blow people’s minds. This is my early pick for best new series of the year, and I doubt that anything is going to prove me wrong!


Related posts:

  1. Choker #1 to be Reprinted and Available on February 24th
  2. Comic Review: Orc Stain #1
  3. McCool and Templesmith’s Choker #1 Release Date Brought Forward to Feb 10th
  4. Comic Review: Ana Chronistic #1
  5. Comic Review: Stumptown #2


One Response to “Comic Review - Choker #1


Check out what others are saying about this post...

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!