"Suicide 5" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Bughouse Comics
Written by Jason Pell
Illustrated by Ryan Howe
2014, 114 Pages
There are videos on almost everything on the Internet. You want a cat playing the keyboard? Done. You want grandma porn? That's disgusting, but it's out there. What about suicide? That's how Suicide 5 starts. Glenn offs himself on camera and becomes an Internet sensation. It turns out that he was just the first player in a twisted game created by some friends to see who can kill themselves the best. Mason, an artist with a social anxiety disorder, is the judge of the game, giving scores for each suicide.
Every comic requires a suspension of belief, but Suicide 5 pushes the boundaries there. I can believe that an alien baby can land on our world and possess godlike powers, and a nerdy high school student can be bit by a radioactive spider and not get cancer and die, but this I have trouble buying. A group of seemingly well-off twenty-somethings decide it would be awesome to kill themselves one at a time in the most creative way possible. For what? There's no winner.
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Later on, author Jason Pell elaborates a bit on the characters, showing that they were all a bit tortured or depressed. They just needed a push in one direction or the other to realize life is worth living or kick the bucket. Even with this explanation, the story is tough to take in. It's one thing to glorify death, but this is taking it to another level.
The deaths themselves range in creativity. Glenn poisons himself at a toga party after reciting some famous words in Latin. Jordan jumps off a building throwing cash in the air. Susie takes the cake though. She's found torn to pieces in the middle of a park without a stitch of clothing on and nothing nearby. I'm not going to spoil how she does it, but it is pretty elaborate. If I was grading this, she would have won.
Ryan Howe's artwork is a saving grace in Suicide 5. He gives these deaths a cinematic quality. Some comics can easily translate to storyboards for a movie and this is one of them. Howe gets you settled in to the normal world before blasting you with an outrageous suicide. It's a shock when you see some of this on the page because it comes almost out of nowhere. You know that these kids are going to kill themselves, but you're not sure when or how.
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Many of the personality traits for each character come through in Howe's design for them. Bryce is a conniving asshole, always with a shit-eating grin on his face. Mason is the troubled introvert, uncomfortable being outside the safety of his home, fidgeting and looking for places to hide. Jordan is the know-it-all standout. These are things you pick up on without Pell having to explain them in dialogue or exposition.
Suicide 5 presents an unbelievable situation that ultimately uses its characters for nothing more than cannon fodder. There are moments of literal poetry as each of them contemplates their lives before taking the plunge, but it reads like a freshman philosophy student rambling on about their soul and the universe or something equally pretentious.