So, over the weekend I had the pleasure of reading “Brat Pack” a graphic novel by Rich Veitch which was released independently in 1992 (impressive in its own right). It is a no holds barred dark satire that attacks the traditional comic book superhero.
First of all, this book deals with all manner of taboos and is NOT for the squeamish. Over 176 pages; greed, commercialism, feminism, racism, homosexuality, paedophilia and violence are all tackled. The sheer volume makes you think; “is there room for a story in there??”
Well…yes. The story follows four new sidekicks’ coming of age, each of whom replaces an original “Brat Pack” member according to the predetermined traits on which they were recruited. We have “the good religious kid”, “the innocent virgin”, “the rough kid from the streets” and “the Nazi scholar”. Each kid is then given over to their respective hero who moulds them into whatever kind of psychotic helper they need. Set in “Slumberg” – a kind of generic, nineties, any US city you can think of, place – unemployment and general bleakness is brilliantly drawn in black and white: just adding to the misery.
The comic asks the question, wouldn’t it be cool to be a sidekick? Even though you might think to yourself; “damn right it would!”, and start imagining yourself fighting crime in spandex pants, with a motherfucker of a car and making the streets safe to walk on at night, would you really enjoy it? Running around the streets with a middle-aged, lonely vigilante who has become bitter and twisted after years of fighting with little or no thanks from the people he protects….? Maybe not. Especially in Slumberg, where the people’s opinion of the “Brat Pack” is anything but good – that is, until the original pack get murdered and everyone loves them again. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
The heroes of the city are fueled by their own greed and use the sidekicks to secure lucrative new comic book and toy deals with no concern for anyone but themselves. Eventually things come to a head and the people realise that the evilness of commercialism has to be stopped, the only question being; by who?
I guess you’ll just have to read it to find out. Handy, as I’ll be selling a copy this Sunday at the Old Hairdressers!