Friday, December 11, 2009

Review: Rock Bottom, by Joe Casey

Rock Bottom My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book fails -- at least as the "epic of human proportions" the back cover proclaims it to be. In reality, it's good, or at least good enough -- meaning, it meets my relatively low standards for graphic novels: attractive visuals (Okay, pretty pictures), an interesting story, and a manageable length (so I can read it in one or two sittings).

In reality, it is not the story of "every man" -- a story which captures and depicts a deep something of human nature to which we can all relate. It is the story of one man: a young-ish musician and recent divorcee who seems a bit of a prick (obviously, he was the one who cheated).

That is, until he starts turning to stone. Yep, stone. You know, I do wish they explained that aspect better, but, though he soon ends up at his doctor's office and they run plenty of tests, we never get anything approaching an explanation on this mysterious new disease. Fine. That's fine. Clearly, the author has gotten a little too used to writing super hero stuff, but it's forgivable.

The guy, the protagonist, soon accepts his fate: there is no hope and he will soon turn completely into stone. I generally liked that approach: there is no denial or fighting against the inevitable, as is so common these days both inside and outside of literature. Instead, the guy tries to enjoy what little time he has left, with the help of his lawyer/best friend and, eventually, his doctor.

There are a few touching moments, and some enjoyable, if not startling, developments and twists. But really, we all know what is going to happen, though the author does manage to spice up the ending a little*.

You know, this could have been better, but I understand how could it have been a lot worse. I don't like an overly-preachy story, especially when it's coming from a comics writer. Nor do like too much sap. Somehow, this GN found a nice balance and pleased me enough to earn itself three stars.

* The guy's friends, using the money they gathered from a fund-raising scheme -- ie, selling off chunks of the guy's petrified body, through infomercials; with his permission -- to erect statues of him in public parks around the country. Then people squabble a bit over which statue is the "real one" -- though that turns out to be in a secluded, tropical location, overlooking a waterfall, the kind of place he'd always dreamed of.

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