The Fix #1
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Steve Lieber
Colors by Ryan Hill
Letters by Nic J Shaw
Published by Image Comics
If Nick Spencer or Steve Lieber ever present you with a business opportunity like one related to a deposed Nigerian prince or any other surefire way to make money, don't trust them. They're clearly criminals. They'll likely take you for all you have and leave you for dead. I began to suspect this after reading the much-loved Superior Foes of Spider-Man. But after reading the hilarious, gorgeously illustrated first issue of The Fix (which at $3.99 for almost 40 pages of story, gives you your money's worth), it's clear to me that they have suspiciously good insight into the minds of criminals.
Spencer is one of the funniest comic book writers out there. He's clearly got a good ear both for dialogue and humorous narration. He's at his best when he's writing funny, topical, relationship based humor, and he does a lot of that here (he also does that, in a very different context, in the current Captain America series). The jokes come pretty fast and furious, ranging from raunchy sex, overprotective hipster parents, and wannabe Hollywood types. Spencer also paints a very clear understanding of the upbringing and the motivation of at least one of the main characters. It's entirely cynical, but also quite sweet in its own way. That's a feeling you get in this book - warm-hearted cynicism.
The art in The Fix is a study in contrasts and small moments. The character whose facial expressions are normally happy and upbeat, all he has to do in one moment is give a serious facial expression in the implication is pretty chilling. There's so much skillful work on various characters' body language and facial expression; given the number of jokes per page it's easy to lose track of these subtle touches, but they're there, and they ground the storytelling. Lieber is also a master of panel construction. There's a scene where the character are mid-robbery and they're being chased, and the panels flow in such a way that it's almost like a diagram; but this isn't some sort of cold, clinical chart; you see the chase brings the characters in a circle back to the person who's chasing them, and the panel flow and timing of it works so well that you can practically hear "Yakety Sax" (i.e., the old "Benny Hill" music) playing in the background.
Regardless of whether you read Superior Foes, if you're looking for a hilariously vulgar, cynically upbeat crime story, do yourself a favor and pick up The Fix. But seriously, Spencer and Lieber will rob you blind.
[The Fix #1 is available this Wednesday, April 6th]