The Brothers James 1 & 2 Review

By: Rob Gruszecki


            Two brothers sit opposite one another in a dingy diner’s booth. Their poise, stoic and their expressions vacant. Sitting at the other end of the diner a depraved conversation takes place between four hillbilly types, beer swinging precariously from their fists and dribbling down their grizzled chins. Each thug a post graduate from prison with resume’s even boasting the likes of eight kills. When an abusive situation regarding the server erupts the two brothers spring into their own brand of vigilante action, guns drawn.

Jump back to the early eighties where two boys are birthed in an environment dripping with blood, carnage and emotional scarring. The kind of nurturing that gives birth to violence, renegade proclivities, complete desensitization and all encompassing rage. Exactly the loving home that brought our boys Jack and Johnny to this dive diner where their skills in execution are honed to near perfection.


Another day, another group of bottom feeding scum hand picked by the anti-heroes leads to high speed chase, car wrecks, biker brawls and another blood bath courtesy the delivery of fist and foot to extremity in agonizing detail signed with love by the Brothers James.


Ryan Ferrier, the Calgary writer of Tiger Lawyer brings a gritty view of justice to the pages of The Brothers James from Challenger Comics as we follow Jack and Johnny on an adventure leaving many bodies and assorted road kill behind in their wake. Pursued by local law enforcement and met with potential candidates for their new ‘street cleaning’ regiment, the two-headed punisher goes on an exciting and fresh new take on a bloodthirsty premise. Exceptional narrative stringing together both issues is presented in text boxes that breathe a southern drawl in perfect Dukes style and in a personal highlight of both issues, detailed blow by blow deliveries of each injury incurred by the Brothers’ wrath is met with revulsion and twisted cheering. The James brothers are created to be vicious murderers yet they are written with an empathetic and even glorified presence that makes it easy to root for the killers. Plotted expertly and written with a genre confidence that is both an influence and joy to read, Ferrier scripts what is shaping up to be a spectacular crime series.


Michael Walsh (Comeback) takes care of the covers of both issues and the interiors of the first. His style, a crime-noir style among the likes of Nic Klein, Michael Lark, Kano or Matthew Southworth  makes the initial issue of Brothers a visual feast of hard boiled drama and action fueled intensity. Character designs of drunken hicks inside the diner are depicted perfectly making the audience crave their demise in cruel swiftness, appeasing the bloodlust the book instills. Ultimately the tone and fog the morally divisive themes in the book exude is complimented perfectly and sincerely by Walsh’s work.


Handling the interiors of the second installment, “Midnight Rider”, is Brian Level who brings absolutely gorgeous detail and emotion to the script that make for an even more stressful ride down a highway, pursued by a revenge driven biker gang. With honestly one of my favorite car chase layouts I’ve seen in comics, Level presents the perilous circumstances of their Seventy-One Challenger to it’s bleak and rapidly impending fate. The facial art, giving Jack and Johnny even more spirit and emotion, adds to the overall connection you get to the book as well, which make for an excellent follow up to Issue one’s “Renegade” story.


The best material being published today is hands down in the corner of creator-owned comics and Ryan Ferrier, a local champion of the movement, produces an original and riveting addition to the medium with the help of the ever talented Michael Walsh and Brian Level. By the time the third chapter, “The Death Cult of Mississippi”, is released it will hopefully be met with a slew of fans eager for their next dose of the Brothers’ quest as reading either of the first instalments will for sure keep you coming back for more.


Rob Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior

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