"Scum of the Earth #1 & #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Action Lab Entertainment
Written by Mark Bertolini
Illustrated by Rob Croonenborghs
2013, 23 Pages Each, $0.99 Each
Comics published in October and November 2013
I'm really digging the fact that digital first titles are becoming more and more popular. It's so much easier to access a library of comics from a tablet than it is to search through a dozen long-boxes for a specific issue. Many publishers have been jumping on this train with varying degrees of success. Action Lab Entertainment has been releasing a number of digital first comics, the latest of which is Scum of the Earth. The book centers on True and Laura, a couple of rednecks who are like the Midwest version of Bonnie & Clyde. They're driving through the Bible Belt shooting up diners and taking what they want. There's something out of this world on their trail though, in the form of a robot from space. That's a bit different, huh?
I wish I could tell you more about Scum of the Earth, but that's all there is to it so far. There are two issues out as of the time of this writing, and they add up to about one actual comic's worth of content. Each issue sells for $0.99 on ComiXology, and is listed as having 23 “pages.” In actuality, each “page” is really half of a physical comic, so you end up with about 11 real pages. This wouldn't be that bad if there was a bit more to Scum of the Earth so far.
I actually got to the end of the first issue and said “That was it?” For an introduction, it's lacking. Writer Mark Bertolini needs to get you hooked early on, as he has a limited space to do it. As it stands, the final page reveal is already spoiled by all of the descriptions of the comic. The same can't be said for the last page of the second issue though, so I'm hoping things get a little more interesting. At least in this case the price is right, unlike some other similarly set up books like Night Trap from Lion Forge Comics.
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The outline for Scum of the Earth sounds pretty cool to start with. There are more questions than answers at this point. Why are True and Laura being chased by this alien? Do they even know that they're on the run? Will their guns do anything to the creatures advanced technology? They're certainly good at killing things, so I wouldn't write them off so quickly.
What struck me early on about the comic was the relationship between the main characters. True and Laura are head-over-heels in love and they don't care about anything else in this world but each other. This is great for them but awful for the people they come into contact with, as they usually end up dead. Picture every dysfunctional and violent relationship you've seen and you're on the right track. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry comes to mind easily, and not just because Dirty Mary is the name of the diner in the second issue.
Artist Rob Croonenborghs provides a rough, slightly cartoonish world for True and Laura. That's not to say that the book is like a Saturday morning TV show. That's the furthest thing from the truth. This is violent. One guy gets his head blown clean off in issue #2. Croonenborghs work is a little rough around the edges, but it has a charm to it that is perfectly at home with Bertolini's story. I'm looking forward to seeing how he handles the alien a bit more.
These first two chapters of Scum of the Earth are a nice start. It definitely left me wanting more from the story, but I also felt like there should have been more to begin with. If the creators can find a nice balance between teases and actual content, it'll be perfect. This is currently billed as “Book One – Slouching Towards Bethlehem”, so I'm intrigued as to where this goes next (and don't say Bethlehem because then you're just being an asshole).
Scum of the Earth is currently available exclusively at ComiXology.