Friday, October 30, 2015

Comic Review: Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab #1

Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab is kind of difficult to talk about. It's not overly complex, since most of the premise is in the title and first page of the story, but it works as an example of a problem that I often have with comics, and it's hard to tell if the problem is me or not. There is a lot that I like here, similar to my reaction to other comics from Action Lab, and without the way that it ends, it would be something that I absolutely love. The way that it ends gives me pause, and I can't tell if it's a failure of the book or of me.

Cover of Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab #1, Courtesy of Action Lab ComicsMy particular problem could be a spoiler, but it's right there in the title of the story. The taxi cab is haunted because, as we find out very early, Cyrus was trying to help a kid, Michael, who had been shot and staggered into the cab. We know that he's going to die, and that he's going to haunt the cab, and that's exactly where this first issue ends. Cyrus discovers that it's haunted on the last page, and we don't get to see any of what that means. It's not even clear what story they're trying to tell, if this is a more straightforward ghost story, a mystery, a psychological examination of what this does to Cyrus, or something else entirely. Any of these could be the story, but because the issue ends just as the story is really starting, it feels like I've been cheated out of an actual end to the issue. It could have gone on just a little further, compressing some of the rest of the book, and that would give me enough to know what is coming next and what to expect. Instead, it spends the entire issue just setting up the premise which was communicated in the title.

Interior art from Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab #1, Courtesy of Action Lab ComicsThat negativity out of the way, there is a lot to love in this book. It took me a while to figure out exactly what effect the art has, as even when I looked at previews of the book, I couldn't figure out what jumped out at me about it. Thinking about it more, the art makes the inciting incident of the story feel wrong. Not that it would ever be right to have a kid bleeding out of a gunshot wound in the backseat of a cab, but the art manages to make it feel even more wrong. It looks like someone took a lighter story and turned down the brightness of the colors, making a twisted cartoon. This makes it even more wrong that this happened to Michael, since it doesn't feel like it entirely belongs with the art style.

What I liked most was the character work. We spend most of the issue with Cyrus, as he's trying to get Michael to the hospital, then dealing with the fact that he didn't manage to save him. We're seeing his mostly mundane life as a cab driver, then how he's completely destroyed by trying to deal with what happened. I love character work like this, and it's done particularly well here, getting into his head and seeing how he's affected, and I really want to see how he is in the future, how bad he's going to take it when it's haunted. I want to spend more time with Cyrus, even though I've barely met him.

I liked this issue, but that ending just causes me to react irrationally to it. There was still enough good in there that I have high hopes for the future, but the ending just left me on the wrong note.


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