(Self Published, 2013)
Comic and Art by: Dean Trippe
Logo Design By: Hannah Partlow
I want to start out by saying; there is no way I can ever write a review that would do this comic justice. Something Terrible is an amazing comic and I highly recommend that as soon as you are done reading this, you go get it. With that said, lets begin.
The comic opens with a panel of a traditional suburban house, with a boy sitting on the front steps. All seems normal, but as we are about to see, nothing could be further from the truth. The next panel is a zoomed in picture of the boy on the front step. The boy is sitting with his legs to his chest with his arms wrapped around him, and a downcast look on his face.
The next four panels are an expertly drawn flashback of the boy being rapped. Trippe uses four simple, but strong images to show the rape. First we see a pair of sock covered feet walking along a hallway. Next we see the boy in his room, appearing to have just woken up, and to be looking around for the noise he heard. The third panel shows two shadows on a wall, one is of a man, the other of the boy. At this point, we see one of the few dialog boxes in the whole comic with the following message, “If you tell anyone…” And finally, the last panel shows a pair of briefs (presumably the boys) lying on the floor followed by the dialog box “…I’ll kill your family.” As stated, there isn’t much dialog in the comic, but it’s not needed. The simplicity of this comic is what gives it its power. Trippe uses clean lines, no color, and has very little use for words. I am happy to say that the following few panels show the boys mother figuring out what happened and getting him help. Despite this though, being raped is not an experience easily accepted, and we can see in the following panels that the boys is still upset.
One day at school, the boy sees Batman, and during the line “Tell me kid, you ever dance with the devil by the pale moonlight?” the boy’s eyes widen, and we can tell that he realized that Batman too went through a traumatic experience. Not only that, but Batman survived his traumatic experience and became a superhero, and if Batman could do that, then the boy could survive too. From this point on, we see the boy growing up with the presence of Batman in his life. We see the boy deal with bullies and not being comfortable with grown men, but he comes out of these experiences stronger because of Batman. As he grows older though, it is only natural that the boy starts to become aware of how his past can affect his future. One night the boy is watching TV and learns about the Cycle of Abuse, where the victim becomes the abuser. At this moment, the boy realizes that everyone will expect him to be a child molester one day, and it is this realization that brings a new presence into his life – the loaded gun pointed straight at his head.
More panels go by, and we see the boy become a man. And throughout his life, the Batman presence is still there, but more prevalent, is the hand holding a loaded gun to his head. Though the man has a great job, and a family of his own, he cannot shake the loaded gun. You can see in his expressions that he’s just waiting for the day that he will become the abuser. At the end of the comic, Trippe wrote a few paragraphs to his readers, and in it he says “It’s horrible, living in fear that there’s something terrible inside you, like you might be some secret monster, requiring constant vigilance lest the beast be unleashed,” and that is what we see in the man’s face.
Finally, the man decides to draw his story, and we see the same first two panels that started our four-panel rape scene. Instead of the shadow and the briefs we see the T.A.R.D.I.S. appear, and out steps…Batman (sorry Dr. Who fans). Batman tells the boy that superheroes are real and that they can keep him safe. The young boy, who is officially named our author, Dean Trippe, is taken into the world of superheroes. It should not go unsaid that the superhero panel is the only panel done in color, signifying how much superheroes impact our world. The comic continues with Trippe, who still has that loaded gun to his head. In one panel we see him looking at a laptop and reading an article about child sexual abuse. The article says that most children who were sexually abused do not go on to become the abuser themselves. It is at this moment that Batman appears behind Trippe, grabs the hand holding the gun and says “No Guns.” Suddenly, the expectation for his life – that he never even realized he was carrying – has been lifted, and Trippe is free to go read a bedtime story to his son.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I learned one big lesson from Trippe’s story, and that’s to stop letting life’s expectations lead the direction of my life, and to live the life I want to live. Of course, Trippe said this best. When talking about writing this comic, and the impact that the moment and Batman had on his life, Trippe said he learned “…the simple message of all good superheroes: You are who you choose to be.” So, as I said before, go and read this comic. Let Trippe take you through the terrible (yes, pun intended) things life can throw your way, and the amazing transformation that can come from it. After all, Trippe was right “you are who you choose to be.”
Ali is a creative writer with an emphasis on Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Comic Books. She first fell in love with superheroes when they were used to teach her to read. When not practicing at her dojo or out seeing the latest superhero movie with her friends, Ali can be found curled up on the couch with her dog and a good book.