BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
I hope you’ve been bearing with me as I do two or three per day with these instead of the “review” I promise. I know, I’m quite mad. So let’s look at another small press (as in, self-published) comic!
Last year, I reviewed James Heffron’s It Tolls For Thee, which wasn’t a bad comic. He was nice enough to give me a couple more comics that he’s written, so here they are! Like It Tolls For Thee, these are decent comics with enough flaws that I don’t love them. But like most self-published stuff (Heffron publishes them through Law Dog Comics, his own company), I love that these comics exist and, in many cases, are just as good as what you find from the Big Two. Whether that speaks to the lack of quality from the big boys or the high level of quality found way outside the mainstream is something for you to decide!
Up first, we have The Further Adventures of D. B. Cooper #1, which is subtitled “The Dragon’s Triangle.” Heffron writes and draws, with A. M. Munoz on finished art, Groundbreaker Studios coloring it, and J. Matthew Crawley lettering the whole thing. It’s 47 pages of comics for $6.95, which ain’t bad.
In case you’re not up to speed on the unlikely saga of D. B. Cooper, Heffron gives us a fictionalized version of it as well as providing some of the scant documentation of the case. Dan Cooper (an alias) boarded a plane in Portland in November 1971, demanded $200,000 or he’d detonate a bomb he was carrying (a ticking satchel; who knows if the “bomb” he showed to a flight attendant was real?) and then parachuted out with the money (he got the money at SeaTac, where the plane landed initially). Later media reports identified him as “D. B. Cooper,” and the name stuck. His body and the money was never recovered, although in 1980 a boy found $5880 of the ransom money near Vancouver, WA (yes, there’s a Vancouver in Washington – it’s right across the river from Portland). The “Man” believes that Cooper didn’t survive, but they’re just trying to keep us from making Cooper a folk hero, man!
Heffron takes this story and builds a backstory for Cooper – he gives him a name (Cooper McUtchins) and a reason for the skyjacking (he lost his job and needs to feed his family). He also explains how he lost $5880 but didn’t stop to pick it up (one of the reasons why the FBI believes he died, because why wouldn’t he retrieve the money?) and why they couldn’t find him during the manhunt (which stretches credulity a bit, but that’s okay). In the beginning of the book, an FBI agent investigating the crime in 2010 finds a French man who used to dive with Jacques Costeau and claims to know something about Cooper. They dismiss him because he says he met Cooper in the South Pacific, but Heffron comes up with a reason for that, too. It’s a clever set-up to the tale, which ends with pirates attacking the boat on which Cooper now works. The cover also shows dragons, which may or may not be awesome.
Heffron keeps things light, both in the story and the art. Yes, Cooper yearns for his wife when he’s on the boat, and Heffron alludes to his service in Vietnam and how the American people didn’t appreciate what the soldiers did over there, but this is basically an adventure story, so it doesn’t get too dark. The art is very cartoony, which works pretty well with the tone of the book. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done. We can always tell what’s going on, which sounds like a backhanded compliment but really isn’t.
The Further Adventures of D. B. Cooper has much to recommend it, and although I don’t love it, it’s as entertaining as many superhero books out there. I’m sure Heffron will sell them to you if you get in touch with him!
Tomorrow: What if you were the son of a super-villain? What would you do?
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