Seven years after the events of the California Zombie Plague and her quest for pants, Regina Ragowski is back… but why is she breaking supervillains out of prison?
If you’ve been paying attention to the many titles previewed, reviewed, and ranted about on thePullbox, our respective social media feeds, or if you’ve had the misfortune of being cornered by one of us at a local Con, there’s a chance that you’ve heard of an odd comic called Rags. Born of an idea that started with a group of friends playing Left-4-Dead (and possibly drinking heavily), Rags volume 1 is about former Marine Regina Ragowski’s adventures during a zombie outbreak (and a quest for pants). It was also about the measures a survivor will take to find a bit of peace in the middle of chaos (and to find pants). And it’s about the depths to which a survivor will fall when she’s lost too many friends & buddies- two very different things.
Rags is a lot. Period.
When I got hold of the first issue of a whole new story arc, I went back and read the first series for what’s probably the fourth or fifth time and I’m still finding puzzle pieces that I’d missed before. It’s a testament to Team Rags that they were able to stash so many Easter Eggs without turning the whole thing into a tangled mess. It works as a zombie survival action story, as a tongue in cheek indictment of political correctness taken to the point of absurdity, and as a running metaphor that outlines the constant struggle of those experiencing PTSD.
With all of that in mind, it’s no surprise after reading the long-awaited 8th issue, I walked away with a case of whiplash. It’s also not a surprise, to me at least, that I’m loving it and am one hundred percent here for it.
Daquan Jenkins opens this leg of the story with a tonal shift (more like a hairpin turn, screeching tires and all), a prison break, and as bizarre a cameo appearance as you’re ever likely to see. Then things get crazy, and Jenkins jukes his way through this reintroduction to the world of Rags. When we last saw Regina, she was bleeding profusely and limping off into the metaphorical sunset, finally having found the “tactical onesie” we were promised back in the original tagline (“Black humor; accurate fire; tactical onesie”). It’s seven years later & she’s exploding back into action, a specter out of myth judging by the reactions of the hapless transport guards who’ve crossed her path. Questions left by the end of the issue: Are we leaving the undead behind in favor of superheroes, villains, and one unlikely genie? Who put Regina up to the explosive escape caper? How did she acquire her apparent notoriety? For the record, Jenkins answers exactly NONE of these. He’s busy staying focused on the logistics of the escape, the legitimacy of a certain free pass, and some very slick crossover opportunities previously hinted at and now fulfilled.
Through it all, the work of Luigi Teruel stays true. Not in the sense that this second chapter in the Ragsverse looks exactly like the first, but more in the dedication to putting out the best-looking product possible. Honestly, I don’t know how it is that this guy isn’t a household name, at least in the households where people talk about comicbook artists. Hell, my wife even knows who he is! Teruel’s grasp on human anatomy and his attention to detail continues to astound me. If you look past body mechanics, what should be the most basic aspect of drawing the human form and a thing that’s overlooked disturbingly often in comics, there are more minute details to zoom in on than you can shake a big stick at (for the record, Luigi can and has made stick shaking look pretty damn good as well). Simple things like “trigger discipline”, a term that should be familiar to veterans, LEO’s, or anyone at all with fundamental firearms training out there. Take a close look at Regina’s left hand on that first page. Here… I’ll help.
That’s a trained shooter keeping her finger off of the trigger until she’s on target and ready to fire. It’s not something that may not make a difference to many readers, but it’s the kind of thing that Teruel has been doing supremely well from issue #1 and on. He starts with the human figure, constructs the pose that’s called for in a given panel, and then breaks that down to its essential elements. What you get from all of that finite attention to detail is a fantastic looking drawing that, like Rags as a whole, has its own Easter Egg elements for a determined readers to root out.
Like it or not, there really is a target audience for Rags, and it’s at that demographic that many of the little particulars are aimed. That’s not to say that there isn’t anything here for readers who haven’t served in the armed forces. I’ve turned a few non-veteran friends onto Rags, one of whom had his own thing or two to say about the series (Andy’s own review on volume 1, right here), and the book’s appeal is across the board.
It will offend. It will entertain. It will stick in your throat like when you try to swallow a mouthful of crackers without water. If you think I’m going overboard, please feel free to get your own copy to read (remember, piracy is bullshit) and prove me wrong. I’ll wait….
Final Score: 12/13