Am I in the mood for a new Image series from writer/artist Kaare Andrews about a vigilante who goes around murdering the most decadent and depraved of the upper class? You better believe it! In this post-Great Recession era (which is also the dawn of the Trump administration), I didn’t have to work hard to get myself in the mood for some violently stylized wish fulfillment against the people with all the money and power. For the first two issues, I got what I wanted. We get Renato’s “secret origin” and find out just why he’s bent on taking out the worst of the one percent even though he’s part of their circle as well. It starts with a bro-tastically sleazy hedge-fund manager with some very unsavory hobbies, and continues to a Trump stand-in real-estate mogul who is attending a party where every appetite is indulged. Andrews is a very talented visual stylist who does some very eye-catching work here, sometimes at the expense of coherence on the page. Yet while the violence is frequently (and sometimes literally) eye-popping, the best moment in the volume has a one-percenter committing suicide when given an ultimatum to go live a normal life and work a nine-to-five or else. It’s as credible a moment as it is cathartic.
Starting with issue three, however, the action slows down and the manic energy of those first two issues starts to dissipate. Andrews starts to focus more on Jones’ history and character, that of his childhood trust-fund friend Bliss, and introducing the douchebaggiest of Batman analogues Wicked-Awesome. While the creator’s attempts to add depth to his characters and their world would normally be appreciated in another more sane series, it winds up sapping the wish-fulfillment joy of this one. Plus, by the end of the volume the title character hasn’t emerged as someone who is interesting to read about beyond the outrageousness of his quest. There are still some impressive visuals to behold from Andrews, but I’m left wishing that he had gone all-in on style over substance for this vengeance-fueled class warfare fantasy.