"The Squidder #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written and Illustrated by Ben Templesmith
2014, 36 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on July 16th, 2014
After a race of alien squids invade the planet, humanity has all but given up. Some rose up to fight. Others began worshipping their new overlords. Enough time has passed since the initial invasion that the people have forgotten how it was. The fight against the squids is called a rebellion. Not all of them have forgotten. There's still the Squidders, or what's left of them. One in particular is the protagonist of The Squidder, the latest comic from Ben Templesmith.
The title character (who receives no other name aside from “The Squidder”) is a tortured man. He's outlived everyone he knows due to the modifications made to his body in an effort to combat the squids. His body can take a lot of punishment before nanites begin repairing it. This doesn't allow him to escape his bloody past. Every night he dreams of the battles he's fought and the men and women that he failed, watching them die next to him with their bodies eventually swallowing him up. His existence is now one of survival, doing odd jobs for odder men in a world that God has forgotten.
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Templesmith dives head first into the world of The Squidder. The history provided is done so in an organic way. It never feels like exposition with someone rambling off about past events. Instead you get the internal monologue from the main character from the moment he wakes up from his nightmares to meeting the local mob boss looking to give him a job escorting a woman to her new home. Throughout these events, he's thinking of his past failures and his current miserable life in the new status quo of the world.
The Squidder features a dystopian future of Mad Max proportions. The group of thugs sent to collect the main character for the mob boss would fit right in the Thunderdome, complete with tricked out motorcycles and trucks fitted with machine guns. This is what humanity looks like when it’s no longer advancing and is instead just working to survive.
Templesmith's art style was made for The Squidder. It's rough, violent, and visceral. The first glimpse of the title character is in shadow, followed by a gruesome battle with bodies flying everywhere as the humans struggle to fight back the squids. This hulking man stands atop of pile of corpses propped up by a huge blade. Fast forward to the present day where he jumps into action against the aforementioned thugs. He's all business, taking each one out methodically and brutally. There's one panel where the sound effects almost outweigh the characters as the Squidder jumps into a haze of bullets.
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The present day Squidder is hard and tough. There's a great full-page shot featuring a close-up on his face. Although he doesn't look his age, you can tell that he's lived a long and torturous life. His face is badly scarred. His ear looks like it's been partially chewed off. His eyes hide feelings of sorrow, loss, and regret. He just wants this horrible existence to end.
The Squidder is Ben Templesmith at his best. This is what he can do when he's given free rein to create whatever he wants. He's created a world that has lost all hope and doesn't even realize it anymore. It's one that is ruled over by a group of squids, worshipped by some, hated by others, and ignored by everyone else.