"The Milkman Murders" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Joe Casey
Illustrated by Steve Parkhouse
2005, 104 Pages
Graphic Novel released on September 26th, 2012
The concept of the dysfunctional family is one that was popularized by the modern day sitcom. It was fun to watch Homer choke Bart or Al and Peg Bundy get into arguments. The idea of the perfect family as depicted in those old black and white TV shows of the ‘50s is one that just doesn't exist anymore. The Milkman Murders by Joe Casey and Steve Parkhouse takes this idea to an extreme.
Barb is your average housewife. She takes care of her home and has dinner ready when her ungrateful husband Vincent comes home from work. He treats her like garbage and then heads out to snort coke with his buddies. Her son Fletcher has inherited the douchebag gene from his father. He's also killing local pets. Finally, Barb's daughter Ruthie is sleeping with one of her teachers. This is clearly not the Cleavers.
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Unlike Beaver's mom, Barb has had enough. She's finally put over the edge when she gets a bizarre visit from the milkman. Her life is changed and she decides to take it out on her family for all the crap she's been put through. By this point in the comic, you're really rooting for Barb. She's been through a lot and her family just doesn't care about her. They deserve what's coming to them.
While the idea of revenge is certainly a sweet one, the trigger for it in The Milkman Murders is a bit...strange. It really comes out of nowhere and the endgame didn't make much sense. Barb's journey is a disturbing one. I don't know where she would go next or why she does what she does at the end of the book. It's the kind of thing that you read and then go "...Huh" right after.
I'm a fan of author Joe Casey's work, but The Milkman Murders lacks the type of humor I have come to expect from comics like Doc Bizarre M.D.. There are no laugh-out-loud moments here. Instead it's a harsh satire of the modern day family.
Steve Parkhouse's art matches up with the dark parody of the story. The characters are almost cartoonish in nature. Barb has this huge nose that takes up half of her face. Fletcher's bowl haircut comes down to his eyes, making him look like a loser version of one of the Beatles. Vincent looks like a filthy landlord. You know what to expect from these characters before they even say a word. It's great character design.
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The Milkman Murders is definitely not a book for everyone. It's a unique twist on revenge fantasy, but it can be rather unsettling at times. This isn't a book that you're going to read and start laughing about. It's a dark comic, but one that can be satisfying if you've ever met some ungrateful stooge who doesn't appreciate how good they have it.