Friday, January 13, 2006



Written by Warren Ellis
Artwork by Jacen Burrows

Scars was Warren Ellis’ attempt to write something disturbing. Not disturbing in the “look at these horrible monsters from outer space” but in the “look at these horrible monsters who are your next door neighbours and aren’t aliens or anything, but just humans.” He succeeds.

John Cain is a cop. A not horrible and corrupt cop, but a good cop (as most cops in fiction are). He’s just gotten back from leave involving something horrible about his wife/girlfriend and daughter. What? We’re not told.

He works on homicide cases. And he can deal with dead bodies. Or at least not vomit every time he sees them. Same thing maybe. Though throwing up is one way to deal with things.

So he’s okay. He’s dealing with his life. His job. What’s happened. Maybe a bit highly strung, but it’s okay.

And then a girl’s body shows up. In a box. In several boxes. In pieces. And once the pieces are put back together there’s evidence of torture and rape. Cain wants to catch the guy that did it. He promises the girl’s family he will. And he’s not going to let the law stop him.

Scars is Cain spirally out of control as he tries to find a murderer.

The story’s good, though things happen a bit too conveniently at times. It is horrible. And scary. It makes me hate being a teacher and the position of trust I’m in. Not because of anything I could ever do, but because there’s the chance that someone else could get a similar job to mine and do something horrible easily.

The horror is aided by Jacen Burrows art. It makes the gruesome things gruesome. It’s pretty realistic for the most part, there are a few more cartoony moments but these don’t detract from the details. There’s a few points where it reminds of Rob G’s art a bit, though I think that’s more down to the design of one of the characters then anything. There’s some nice greytones by Nimbus Studios that helps to give the art some nice depth.

One thing I found a bit annoying was the lack of sound effects. Ellis apparently hates sound effects and doing a comic without them can work, but there’s a few times where I think they would have helped create mode and maybe even helped the flow of the comic a bit.

This is an otherwise minor quibble for a pretty good crime graphic novel. It’s not the type of thing I’d want to read everyday, but if you’re into um, gross crime stuff I’d say pick it up.


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