By Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, John Kalisz and Guy Major
Jimmy’s Bastards Volume 1 is surprising; from the opening pages the creators give a concrete tone of what readers have to expect: jokes in the vein of triggering others, and the most concentrated aspects of the super spy story. This comic frankly doesn’t care if its readers are offended by the jokes it makes, so long as it’s in the name of a good laugh. The biggest problems with this book lie in the fact that it tries to satirize, but ends up concentrating what, seemingly, was meant to be the butt of Jimmy’s jokes into the opposite.
Jimmy, the main character and spy extraordinaire, is an expert at seducing women. His interactions with nearly every female character involve exclusively sex or the intent of sex. The villainous group of the series tries to be a rebuttal to this sexist trope, but instead ends up painting a confused picture in which the reader is unsure of whom to side with. This applies to Jimmy overall as well. Throughout the series, he has politicized conversations with colleagues, sometimes agreeing and sometimes disagreeing.
His new partner, Nancy, tends to butt heads with him. Jimmy almost immediately calls attention to the fact that she is black, and leads into a tired joke about being a token. Nancy refutes him at every turn in conversations such as these, which would suggest that Jimmy is being portrayed as a dunce and Nancy is the intellectual in the duo. This would be the case if Nancy was not the constant butt of the book’s gags and shown as a student rather than as an equal partner to Jimmy. Even when it’s Nancy’s turn to save the day, Jimmy manages to one up her with a tidbit of barely relevant information. She becomes the most sympathetic character due to the fact that she is forced to put up with the pompous lead, Jimmy, by herself.
The defeated, frustrated expression is constantly, clearly on her face. Braun, through the muddiness of the narrative, is able to provide a good-looking book. Jimmy’s overly-proud smile is perfectly punchable through all of his antics, while Nancy’s implies a constant usage of the phrase: “you wouldn’t believe what Jimmy said today”. When Nancy and Jimmy team up to battle a small onslaught of enemies, Braun shows his ability to draw fluidity. This sequence is the best of the book. For once, the two are in perfect sync, reacting to the actions of the other. The communication between the two is seamless, and their victory is prompt yet satisfying.
There is an audience for Jimmy’s Bastards Volume 1, but it is certainly not for everyone. The enjoyment of this series swings heavily on the reader’s personal sense of humor, as well as their political and personal beliefs. Russ Braun’s art is satirical and fluid in the ways that Ennis’ writing is not, but unfortunately the overall ideas overshadow any of the parody some readers might look to this series for.