Casey and Messina’s “The Bounce” #1 offers a new take on superhero comics and establishes a world where the unexpected is all that can be expected. This decidedly street-level high-flying adventure will leave you scratching your head, wondering how the world of cape comics has existed without a character like this for so long.
Written by Joe Casey
Illustrated by David Messina
FIRST ISSUE SPECTACULAR!
Meet the ultimate slacker superhero for the 21st Century! Jasper Jenkins is a super-head AND a super-hero! He’s relatable AND reliable and he’s embarking on the adventure of a lifetime! The sensational debut of the new feel-good hero of the decade! You can’t afford to miss it!
“The Bounce” #1 from Image Comics turns the genre of superhero comics on its head, offering a fresh take on the action adventure stories we have come to expect from a masked vigilante. From Messina’s initial image to the very last page turn, the narrative twist and turns every familiar convention of the form to inspire consideration, and provoke thought. Casey and Messina prove that the limits of a superhero story have not yet been reached in this bold new title.
The Bounce’s alter ego, Jasper Jenkins, is introduced before the hero himself. Jasper seems like a strikingly average guy. His apartment is littered with Xbox games, books and coffee cups. In this initial appearance, he seems to be avoiding responsibility in a general sense. He lacks motivation, he has no destination in life, and seems content to sit on his couch and see how this whole ‘life’ thing plays out. Chances are, Jasper will seem familiar, not because of his adherence to superhero archetypes, but because you’ve known someone like him before. Hell, maybe you are someone like him. When Jasper first springs into action as the Bounce, he does so without the angst-ridden revenge tropes, love of God and country, or cataclysmic catastrophe you might be expecting to be needed to inspire an apathetic character like this. In the absence of a dramatic turn, Jasper’s interest in helping others and working toward the greater good serve to comment on the idea that bravery and heroism belong only to those with something to prove. Anyone can be a hero, even that stoner who only leaves the couch to use the facilities, and dig in the refrigerator occasionally.
Messina’s design for the Bounce’s costume is stellar. It is ferociously dynamic. The bright yellow and black color palette of the uniform play with the human form against the night sky; making the shapes of the hero’s body almost surreal. What’s his superpower, you ask? He, well, he… bounces. Should have seen that one coming, right? This boinging crusader launches himself off walls, through windows, even up to the highest level of skyscrapers all under his own locomotive propulsion. These are the aspects of the book you might have been expecting. A hero with a cool costume, unbelievable ability, and an average Joe alter ego doesn’t seem like a bold departure from the status quo, you say. Just wait for it.
Casey directly challenges every preconceived idea you might have about how this story is going to play out. Let’s run down the Cape and Cowl: 101 checklist, and see how far off the beaten path “The Bounce” takes us. The hero must have a strong motivation, usually hinging on the idea of revenge, or social advocacy. Nope. The hero must be morally resolute, and seek goodness and honor in everything he does. Nuh uh. The hero must sacrifice his own desires and interests in order to do his duty. Nah. The hero must be a powerful figure that others can admire. Not really. Down to the most basic truth of superhero comics; the idea that the good guy always saves the day, these universal truths are quickly dispatched, leaving no room to doubt the novelty of this story.
Messina’s artwork is outrageously strong. He is elegant and articulate in everything from his imagining of characters to his interpretation of environments. The visual elements of this story come to life due to his work. The seamless departures from reality are exciting and beautifully realized. His work on one character in particular, The Fog, is brilliant and haunting. The tonal shifts in color tell as much of the story as the actions of figures, or the words on the page. Realistic, striking, and original, Messina’s art in “The Bounce” #1 is truly successful.Continued below
This issue’s greatest accomplishment, may be one of it’s less palatable elements. The story doesn’t start at the beginning. In some ways this is just another way in which Casey frees the book from the mire of tradition. By withholding the backstory and rising action, he makes the audience aware of how predictable those elements have become. We already know that part of the story, it is part of our consciousness as readers; why would we want to read it again? Ignoring that part of the story allows “The Bounce” #1 to focus on more unique and original pieces of the narrative.
Overall the first issue of “The Bounce,” offers a new perspective on the superhero genre as a whole. Casey’s deliberate subversions of expectations, and Messina’s skillful depictions of this new world work together to make the series an inspiring read. Though, they never tell the audience why that guy ate a lizard.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – The Bounce never drops the ball.