Graphic Novel Review – Officer Downe

A simple tale involving a man who is a super cop, whose only goal in life is to fight injustice. This is Officer Downe, a bad ass law enforcer who is currently on a mission to stamp out all the illegal activities of Fortune 500, an infamous crime syndicate with animal heads who run things behind the scenes. Because of all the trouble Downe is causing them, the group enlist the aid of killer for hire Zen Master Flash and his team of highly trained assassins. Unfortunately for them, Officer Downe is no ordinary policeman.

He is a dead cop who, with the aid of a bunch of telepaths, is brought back to life every time he flat lines with his body literally been pulled back together from scratch. His only drive in life is to enforce the law and so after every death he sets back out again to continue the mission he failed to complete. Nothing keeps this guy away!

Just to clarify something here, this is not going to be a review that goes into detail on complex plot structure or character deconstruction. It just is not that kind of book. What I can say right off is that Joe Casey (Dark Reign – Zodiac) and Chris Burnham (Batman Incorporated) have created a comedic pastiche of everything from their favorite movies with a very massive helping of blood and violence. You know the book is not really taking itself too seriously when the first scene is Officer Downe…err… going down on a young lady before nipping off to kick some drug dealers teeth in. Downe himself is an amalgamation of pretty much every loose cannon cop you can think of. If you took Jesse Ventura’s Blain Cooper from Predator and put him in a cop costume you have Officer Downe. He even has the same mustache. I would not have been shocked if Officer Downe shouted “I ain’t got time to bleed” somewhere in this comic. Alas, he does not.

The bad guys in this book are a parody of comic book villains as varied as Dick Tracy, the Batman TV series and anyone from the rogues galleries of Marvel and DC stables. Their actions however are very different as they love to essentially bludgeon people to death while cracking the wise. As well as these fiendish thieves we have quite a lot of references to other pop culture icons. While flicking through the book I found references to assassins dressed in a track suit version of the Kick Ass costume, a Wolverine imp, an Elvis looking Elongated Man, Jason Voorhees, the vacuum packed zombie from the start of Return of the Living Dead, The Terminator, the two cops from C.H.I.P.S, and Nick Fury!

The book glorifies violence and you cannot go a few pages without an eyeball flying at you in an almost 3D style, and always drenched in glorious technicolor. Because of the regeneration aspect of his character, Officer Downe is constantly in a state of disrepair even when he is punching peoples faces clean off. In one scene he dies with a bad guy’s face stuck to his fist and in another he is still fighting thugs even when half his brain is falling out leading to some great scenes with him smacking people to death with the stump of his severed hand. This is all brought to life by Burnham’s intense and hilarious artwork. It feels very much like a more cartoon version of Frank Miller’s Hard Boiled with its depiction of heads being slowly smashed in with the skin peeling off for all to see. It is not depressing violence however, far from it, it gleefully revels in its gore-y glory, much like an exploitation movie would.

In summary this is not going to be every ones cup of tea. In fact, anyone remotely sickened by reading this article should avoid this book like the plague. Also anyone who actually requires a story to enjoy reading will struggle too. Everyone else however, should love it. It’s a popcorn flick full of action and bloodshed. Casey and Burnham have taken a hearty dollop of 70’s Grind House and mixed liberally with a huge portion of 80’s action schlock to create a comic with its tongue so firmly in its cheek it has popped out the other side! When the lads are round after a few bevies, this is the book you sit around laughing at and then put down and watch Commando. Not a lot of staying power reading wise but it’s there when you need it to entertain, and entertain is a job it does very well.

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