"Plastic #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Doug Wagner
Illustrated by Daniel Hillyard
Colored by Laura Martin
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 19th, 2017
Victor and Virginia are the perfect couple. They're driving across the country having the time of their lives. Along the way, they pull over because they just can't keep their hands off each other. When some hoodlums harass Virginia at a Louisiana gas station, Victor gets angry and when he gets angry, he gets violent. Now these thugs are in a hospital and their boss is looking for revenge. He wants Victor to use his particular set of skills for him in exchange for Virginia's safety. Oh, there are a few details I left out. Victor is a retired serial killer and Virginia is a sex doll. Welcome to Plastic.
Yes, on the surface Plastic sounds like a demented version of Lars and the Real Doll. Instead, it's this creepy and bloody tour through this deranged man's mind. You know that something's weird from page one, but you can't quite put your finger on it. The issue opens with a steamy, squeaky car bounces around on the side of the road as a couple presumably makes love. You only hear one side of the conversation though. Being that this is a horror book, your first thought might be a captive of some kind. Instead, it's a man with his sex doll.
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Much of that initial creepy vibe comes from Daniel Hillyard's artwork and Laura Martin's colors in those first few pages. It looks like the opening of a slasher movie. There's a lone car on a desolate stretch of road. Gnarly trees create an unsettling silhouette on the horizon. There are no stars in the sky or any other lights along the pavement.
The relationship (if you can call it that) between Victor and Virginia is actually kind of sweet. Sure, it's more than a little weird, however they complement each other well. Virginia centers Victor, quelling the violent urges he has. When they're together, Victor is a kind and loving man. This is really just a really weird romantic comedy, right?
It's amazing and more than a little terrifying how quickly Victor can snap into violent mode. When he sees these guys harassing Virginia, he doesn't ask them to stop or even talk to them. He just attacks and does so a most brutal and efficient manner. Bones are broken. Teeth are knocked out. He rips an ear off of one guy with his bare hands. You don't want to know what he does with a toilet brush. It's crazy. This is an impressively choreographed fight scene.
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There is definitely more to Victor's story. This is only the first issue, after all. For example, the fact that he's a retired serial killer isn't mentioned in this chapter. I only know that because it was in the solicitation info for the book. Victor doesn't seem to be his real name either, as he's referred to as Edwyn Stoffgruppen there. I read the comic first before going back and reading that description and it works without it, however if that's important information, I would have preferred it to be revealed in the comic itself and not have to rely on outside sources.
Plastic is a twisted, violent ride of a comic. It harkens back to early Tarantino with quick wit and tons of blood. Instead of someone like Michael Madsen or Uma Thurman, you've got a serial killer and his sex doll. The artwork perfectly captures this mix of action, horror, and dark humor. This is one of the most impressive first issues of the year.