(Image Comics/Top Cow, 2015)
Written by Bryan Hill and Matt Hawkins
Art by Isaac Goodhart
Colors by Betsy Gonia
Letters by Troy Peteri
How do you ferret out the truth when the teller is a proven liar? Where do you turn to solve a murder in a town filled with convicted criminals? Who can you possibly believe?
Welcome back to Eden, Wyoming, the strangest little town this side of Twin Peaks. This is Postal #2, from Image Comics and Top Cow. It’s a town built on the redemption of those thought beyond that, convicted criminals who have set up a weird little commune away from the prying eyes of the government, a place where they can finish out their days in the relative normalcy of a small town setting.
Or so they thought.
In a David Lynchian plot twist, the body of a girl was found in issue 1 with strange words carved into her stomach, and the only one who seems to want to find out who she was and who killed her is the town’s postman and the son of the mayor, Mark. Arguably the only innocent in town in more ways than one, Mark has Asperger’s, a type of high-functioning autism that displays itself mostly as a social awkwardness, and in Mark’s case, a proclivity for the arts and an acute attention to detail. Because of all of these things he makes the perfect detective for this story. Mark’s ability to cut through the bull, to avoid the situations and ask whatever questions come to mind make him harder to shut down than Sam Spade with a hangover. He notices things that most people wouldn’t and stores them in a near photographic memory, to use when he needs them.
Bryan Hill (Netherworld, Broken Trinity: Pandora’s Box) and Matt Hawkins (Witchblade, Avengelyne) did their research for this book. Their portrayal of a man with Asperger’s Syndrome is spot on from everything I’ve read about it, and because of that it makes Mark’s character all the more interesting. I don’t recall every seeing this particular disability in a comic before, and in this case it works completely as a way to see the mystery unfold. It’s similar to the way that Sherlock Holmes is always two steps ahead, seeing a whole picture that the rest of the characters in the story can only see part of.
Isaac Goodhart’s artwork is great, but he has a more interesting problem than is seen in most comics out right now. How do you make a comic visually interesting without being able to draw monsters and weird stuff in the background? Most popular comics have someone who flies, casts spells, fights some kind of otherworldly beings…this one, just people. And not distorted, disfigured people either. (Yet…you never can tell where something may go.) Goodhart has a great handle on the physical form, and makes some great choices. One scene in particular catches my attention where the blank stare of a woman makes a particular situation seem all the more chilling and completely deepens your understanding of who this woman is. It’s little things like that that make you see that Goodhart is perfect for this book.
Things look like they’ll only get stranger as Postal progresses, so catch up and be ready. Mark may not be as innocent as he seems but in a town full of criminals, perhaps just a shred of innocence is enough.
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.
Twitter – brad@comicwasteland