(Dynamite Entertainment, 2014)
Written by Christina Blanch and Chris Carr
Art by Chee
Letters by Troy Peteri
I love going into a comic blind, but often I see a title in my email folder and think, “where have I heard that before?” You get an immediate impression with a good title, and The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood is one of the best out there, and because of that I remembered it, just a sliver of an inkling, when I saw it show up on the review list.
Written by Christina Blanch and Chris Carr originally for Thrillbent, the popular web comic is now being published in paper form by Dynamite. If you go to Thirllbent.com, you’ll see that there is no shortage of existing material for Dynamite to pull from. Carr and Blanch have both taught in universities, and like Charlie Wormwood, in correctional institutions, and here lies the kernel of the story.
Charlie is not just down on his luck. His luck has decided to bury him completely and move to Poland. Charlie’s son is ill, his wife distant, bills are piling up, and he is struggling to make ends meet during a poor economy with a job teaching at a prison. To make it worse his insurance is cut, and Charlie is left at the end of his rope. In a very Breaking Bad twist of fate, a prisoner named Barnum offers him the chance to make extra money by using his photographic memory to deliver messages to his syndicate on the outside. Easy peasy lemon-squeezy.
I love the conundrum here, the moral question, and it’s the same reason that Breaking Bad was so popular. Is it breaking the law if you’re doing it to save your family? From a legal standpoint, of course it is. But if it were your family, what would you do? Most people, without question, would carry the numbers to the outside and try to rationalize it away, to forget about the people that might get hurt by the criminals with that important information. It’s a moral quandary that is endlessly fascinating.
Chee (Dawn of the Dead, Wake the Dead) is the artist who brings Charlie Wormwood to life. Chee has a realistic style that is drawn and inked in grey scale, which beautifully helps to illustrate the story and illustrate the premise behind the story. There is no black and white when it comes to your family, and (purposefully or not) the choice of non-color grey scale in the artwork reflects the differing shades of how we perceive what is right. It is a conceptually interesting way to show how Charlie’s dilemma is not just a matter of right or wrong.
If you’d like to read ahead of Dynamite’s releases, Thrillbent.com has pages and pages of The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood available on their site. If not, read number 1 along with the rest of us as the print issues hit the shelves, and see how a basically good man takes the path that is laid before him. Christina Blanch and Chris Carr already have crafted a psychological study within a captivating story, and Charlie Wormwood’s damnation will be slow and painfully real.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.