What if the WORLD ENDED and NOBODY gave a shit?
Let’s just get on with it: I did not like Revolver by Matt Kindt. Not in the least. Not even a little.
(WARNING: Moderate– but ultimately insignificant– SPOILERS ahead!)
Revolver operates around the premise that Sam— Kindt’s main character– a disenfranchised, down-on-his-luck nebbish who goes to sleep one night and wakes the next morning to discover that he’s now one of the few survivors in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world.
Check out the ANNOYING "news feed" at the bottom of EVERY page-- or not!
Sam finally sleeps in his new-found Hell, only to wake the next day to find he’s back in the “normal” world– a place where life is still sane but also plods along at a monumentally tedious pace.
From that moment forward, Sam “revolves” between these two worlds– with one day spent executing a massively boring routine and next day chock-full of terrifying experiences.
As the narrative progresses, Sam starts to look for– and learn about– things in the “regular” world that will help him in his alternate existence. He begins paying more attention to every aspect of his life and surroundings– noting, for example, the location of a handy boat or learning how to hot-wire a car.
Tension and anticipation build nicely– only to be ultimately destroyed when Kindt shows no intention of forcing his characters to evolve or grow past their petty idiosyncratic “real world” insecurities… Despite they’re being dumped into the middle of such a harsh habitat.
In Normalville, Sam can’t stand his job and dislikes his boss even more… Yet screws the same woman with gusto in apocalyptic land. Sam kills in self-defense and winces as people suffer in the bombed-out city but can barely raise his voice to help– let alone care for– the same people in his placid existence. This pattern continues day after day, over and over– until Sam’s disdain for his crushing banality reaches a tipping point.
But just when you think Revolver’s intriguing premise will finally take off, it implodes.
Kindt’s Revolver attempts to showcase the indomitable will of the human psyche. How one insignificant man– faced with unbeatable forces– can rise, control and even conquer his indifference. Unfortunately, that’s not what really happens here. The author confuses Sam’s deciding to “man up” with maturation and a sense of caring… When the former is simply a reaction to his unavoidable circumstances and the latter feelings are actual choices.
At his best, Sam is just a reactionary soul no matter what world he resides in– allowing forces he cannot control in each world to dictate his actions.
Somehow, understanding this causes Sam to become even more insufferable and unlikable than ever before.
The first MAJOR problem with Matt Kindt’s Revolver surfaces with the painful smear of banality that permeates his main character– and every other character in the story too. I don’t know who edited this mish-mash of disconnected scenes posing as revelatory genius… But if anyone did, they needed to tell the author that if he wanted us to feel for his characters– or anything for his graphic novel at all– that he had to have at least one character in his story worth giving two shits about.
And there isn’t one anywhere in Revolver… In either world.
In his mundane life, Sam treats his girlfriend Maria with overriding disaffection– only to insist on searching for her in the other world after the bombs fall. Why? What is Sam’s reasoning here? He expresses little–if any– love for Maria in his regular life. Would he not then feel relieved to finally be rid of her in his other life? The answer is he would… So the reader is left to assume that Sam only wants to find Maria in the bombed-out world because he either feels guilty (what for we are never privy to)– or worse– he misses having somebody to treat like a doormat.
At this point, the last shards of Kindt’s story disintegrate. There are no likable characters or character development, no real story progression and worst of all– a sense that NONE of it matters… Especially when Sam discovers he can always return to his normal existence without consequence (no matter what happens in the alternate reality). When Sam then also finds that he can choose which world to live in simply at will… All integral story tension disappears within a panel or two.
How can BOMBS be BORING?
But like any bad huckster who has no sense when to stop his failing pitch, Kindt places a ticker-tape line of information at the bottom of
every page that supposedly relates “news” from each world. After a scant 5 pages, the device becomes trite and tiresome– yet continues
for the entire story. Sadly, these incessant, innocuous– sometimes sardonic– made-up “facts” do something truly horrific to the overall narrative… They force the reader’s eye off the main story– causing you to constantly disconnect from the plot and characters.
The existence of this continual “news feed” in the alternate reality is even more puzzling– since there are supposedly no viable news outlets left in the apocalyptic world. If that’s true, where is all this “news” coming from? Isn’t that why the main characters are attempting to write a newspaper in the first place– to fill the news vacuum created by these horrendous events?
It’s all unlikely bullshit. Bad storytelling riddled with flawed plot holes big enough to drive a semi tractor-trailer through.
Yet amazingly, it is still not the worst thing about Revolver. I leave my biggest disdain for the art– especially the coloring.
(Now before you think, “Wow! You really didn’t like this at all, did you? You’re one of those non-superhero comic haters!” Please allow me to direct you to my first review on this site for Neil Young’s Greendale. This review should prove the opposite is true.)
In truth, I can live with Revolver’s art. Every artist has their own particular style– which is what makes art appreciation so cool… Because you may discover you like Kindt’s art more than me or find you dislike it more than me.
My problem with Kindt’s art: There are no real dramatic thematic shifts between the look of Sam’s bored existence and his apocalyptic nightmare. The only differences: bombed out buildings abound and some character appearances change (broken nose, cut on face) in the alternate reality. Kindt’s line work is so unfortunately casual here, that the fine details differentiating Sam’s two lives are often lost for the first few panels of each transition between worlds.
That means I save my biggest slam, however, for the book’s coloring— or in this case, the lack of coloring. Kindt’s inks are tinted blue in the real world and brownish in the bombed world… Yet throughout, he uses unattractive light blue and light tan colors for shading– increasing the difficultly of determining which world Sam is inhabiting on each page.
Simply put, Kindt’s color bores and does not deliver. Maybe he wanted to create a bland palette to further enhance certain blasé elements in the story or maybe he was just rushed or just lazy… Who knows? But the coloring on the book’s cover shows what could– and should– have been… And evokes more emotion in the one drawing– than any of the washed out panels could possibly achieve inside.
Sad to say– but Revolver is sloppy. Sloppy storyline, sloppy art, sloppy coloring.
The only thing not sloppy about the book? Its’ mind-boggling primo price point of $24.99 USD ($28.99 in Canada).
By now you certainly know where I stand on this: The man who’ll read almost anything, in hindsight, wishes he had never purchased Revolver at all.