The GeeksverseREVIEW | Rock Bottom HC (Image Comics)

REVIEW | Rock Bottom HC (Image Comics)
Published on Sunday, November 18, 2012 by
In Rock Bottom, Image Comics’ hardcover repackaging of the 2006 graphic novel of the same title by Joe Casey (Codeflesh, The Intimates) and Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead, Codeflesh), existential and body horror expectations are subverted in the service of a surprisingly uplifting tale.

Key Review Points

Pros:

  • Affecting, unconventional horror story with sympathetic characters.
  • Detailed line art.
  • Stark visual design works well with the overall themes of the book.

Cons:

  • None of note.

Publication Details

  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Publication Date: November 2012
  • Written by: Joe Casey
  • Illustrated by: Charlie Adlard
  • Original lettering by: Josh Richardson
  • Original tones by: Charlie Adlard and Paul Peart
  • Book design by: Drew Gill
  • Format: 120 page, black & white, over-sized hardcover. Reprints Rock Bottom, originally published in trade paperback format in 2006 by AiT/PlanetLar.
  • List Price: $19.99 (digital review copy provided free-of-charge by the publisher)
  • Availability: On sale on November 14, 2012

Page Previews (Click on images to view in larger size)

  

For more preview images, check out the Rock Bottom HC preview

Full Review

Editor’s note: Are you a returning reader wondering why this hardcover collection review isn’t under the Leaving Proof article category? Read this for the explanation.

Image Comics has been doing an excellent job of late in acquiring the rights to material previously issued by other publishers for repackaging as hardcovers, what seems to be a key—if understated—element of its publishing strategy in the latter half of the company’s 20th anniversary year. The past few months have seen the release of the Teddy Kristiansen vs. Steven T. Seagle “remix” graphic novel flipbook The Red Diary/The RE[a]D Diary, Joe Casey and Steve Parkhouse’s disturbing look at debased suburban Americana in The Milkman Murders, and a comprehensive hardbound reprint of Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and Sean Phillips’ underrated neo-noir series Scene of the Crime. This month’s over-sized hardcover edition of Man Of Action co-founder Joe Casey and artist Charlie Adlard’s Rock Bottom—originally published in 2006 by original graphic novel specialty publisher AiT/PlanetLar—continues Image Comics’ recent run of impressive reissues.

Rock Bottom‘s basic premise is as straightforward as any a reader might encounter in horror fiction—recently-divorced, thirtysomething musician Thomas Dare wakes up one day to find his body gradually turning to stone—but it is what Casey and Adlard do with that premise that sets the book apart and elevates it from body horror comics also-ran to a singularly effective and affecting work of sequential art that transcends the limitations and expectations of genre. What starts out as a simple metaphor for Dare’s post-divorce languor expands to encompass his anxiety at becoming the same man as his father, a failure as a husband and an even worse parent. These concerns are admixed with the more plain but no-less-alarming horror of having his body betray itself, a crippling and inescapable fear that makes Dare a sympathetic character despite his many flaws, especially to any readers who are familiar with the emotions that accompany watching a loved one struggle with terminal illness or progressive disease. As the medical community races to find an explanation and even a cure for his worsening condition, Dare tries to come to terms with his life choices and do right by the people around him—not always successfully or satisfyingly—as the likelihood of his demise due to the spreading petrification of his vital organs marches towards seeming inevitability. There is a notion of existential horror at the core of Rock Bottom, the paralyzing terror at the realization that our lives are subject neither to reason nor our control, albeit one tinged more by Kafka than Lovecraft, but the tale’s message ultimately is about finding meaning and purpose in a world that is often random, unforgiving, and resistant to attempts at changing it.

Charlie Adlard’s stark and detailed line art and refined storytelling is a fine match for Casey’s narrative. I would normally have preferred for the screentone team of Adlard and Paul Peart to have used gradients more extensively to add depth to the book’s look, but by reserving the use of grays to the depiction Dare’s condition, they effectively emphasize its bizarre nature and the impact it has on Dare’s life and the world of Rock Bottom at large.

Joe Casey and Charlie Adlard’s Rock Bottom is an excellent book all around, a horror work that supplants the common tactic of using cheap frights to generate life-affirming catharsis with a combination of genuinely sympathetic characters and uplifting sentiment. Highly recommended.

Discuss this article below or contact the author via e-mail
One Response
Have Your Say
Your Name ↓
Your Email ↓
Your Website ↓
Tell us what you think of this story ↓
You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>
Advertisements

Connect With Us!
The Geeksverse on Instagram
Recent Comments