Story by Grant Chastain, pencils by Fran Moyano
Arcana Comics, $14.95.
Have you noticed lately how some (OK, a lot) of comics seemed designed specifically to be Hollywood pitches instead of, you know, actual comics and nothing else. A lot of books I’m seeing these days seem to be based around one simple, basic idea — what the folks in LA call “high-concept” — and don’t worry about such trivialities as telling an interesting story or creating compelling characters. They either feel their premise is strong enough to keep you reading or they see this as simply an easy way to get their foot in the door at Fancy-Shmancy Studios, who will no doubt write them a million-dollar check once they see the comic.
That may not be the intent with Corrective Measures, a new trade paperback from Arcana Comics, but it certainly feels that way. It’s not an awful book. It does enough right things to keep me from hating on it. But neither is it very interesting — it feels like it’s all concept and little else, and and it doesn’t transcend that concept enough to make me able to recommend it.
In this case, the high concept is “Oz meets superheroes.” That’s the HBO TV show I’m talking about, mind you, not the Baum book or Australia. Set within the high-security, dangerous prison known as San Tiburon, “Corrective Measures” asks the question: “What if you were a average joe prison guard prison guard working in a jail full of cons with supernatural or fantastic powers and abilities? What would you do?”
Well, I’d apply for a transfer personally, but that’s not the case with Jason Brody, who joins the prison as Captain of the Violent Crime Wing. He’s your typical hard-ass anti-hero, more content to bust heads than take names. And, of course, many of the inmates at San Tiburon are the worst of the worst — serial killers and the like, giving Brody the perfect excuse to do just that. And, of course, he tends to do all of this on his lonesome, because calling for backup would be the coward’s way out doncha know.
To be fair, writer Grant Chastain makes some honest attempts at developing his characters, and there are moments where the comic feels like it might just justify its existence, like in his handling of an elderly inmate who attempts a risky escape, or in the way Brody defuses tensions between a white supremacist and a radical Muslim. But for every moment like that, there’s two or three where he falls down, as with the warden, an Al Pacino stand-in who for no explainable reason has a really distracting Boston accent, or the budding relationship between Brody and the hot female doctor, who’s sole existence in the comic is to deepen Brody’s character and provide some sexual tension.
But what really drags Corrective Measures down is the art. I don’t like to pick on artists like this, but there’s no other way around it: Fran Moyano’s work here is really sub-par. His characters are frequently off-model, they rarely look the same from panel to panel. and their poses are stiff. His use of perspective seems awkward and his backgrounds are nondescript and bland, something that’s deadly when you’re story is set in a prison. You really need to individualize the setting in a comic like this, and San Tiburon feels like it could be any prison anywhere.
Worse though, a lot of the pages seem blurry, as though they went through some wierd PhotoShop filter before making their way to the printer. Jay Moyano’s colors don’t help matters much — everything is various wshed-out shades of gray, brown or sickly green, with the occasional prison uniform orange. There’s nothing for your eye to focus onto.
Corrective Measures gets points for it’s premise. I’ll give it that. Buried within all that blandness is a rather clever idea waiting to burst out. But ideas in and of themselves do not good comics make. Or movies for that matter. Send this one back to rewrite please.