Book Of The Month – April 2012
Officer Downe: Bigger, Better, Bastard Edition
Written by Joe Casey
Illustrated by Chris Burnham
I feel the need to point out that I originally had another selection for the month of April. Write-up was in the can, and I was planning on recording the podcast episode this weekend. Then earlier in the week I was going through my shelves, reviewing the sweet loot I plundered at the Emerald City Comicon last month, and I came across my signed copy of Officer Downe: Bigger, Better, Bastard Edition and figured “Why not? It’ll be something new to read.” A few pages later, and I just knew I had to bump the selection, and talk about this book as soon as possible.
Now Officer Downe was originally a one-shot from Image that debuted back in 2010. Earlier this year, Image came out with an oversized hardcover filled with tons of back-matter and pin-ups so you felt like you were getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re a fan of Chris Burnham’s art like I am, then you definitely want to invest in the Bigger, Better, Bastard Edition so you can truly bask in all its oversized glory.
The main pull for me wasn’t just Burnham alone, but the team-up between him and writer extraordinaire Joe Casey. I don’t know how Casey does it, but he’s always been able to collaborate with some of the best artists in the business right before their rising star rockets-off into greatness (Codeflesh with Charlie Adlard, Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker with Mike Huddleston). Same thing happened with his first collaboration with Chris Burnham on Nixon’s Pals; next thing you know, Chris is off killing it on art duties on Elephantmen, Hack/Slash, and some indie title called Batman and Robin. Can we call this phenomenon ‘the Joe Casey bump’? Anyways, I enjoyed Nixon’s Pals back in the day, so as soon as I discovered Officer Downe’s existence (I was late to the party), it was like seeing old friends again. Old friends, who grew into hardcore badasses over the years.
Officer Downe takes place in ‘Motherfucking L.A.’, which is being constantly plagued by super-powered baddies and ruffians of the like. Officer Terrance Downe is the ultimate super cop, who refuses to lie down and die until crime has paid and justice has been upheld. I say ‘lie down and die’ because that’s what makes Officer Downe different from every other cop; he’s constantly dying, and is always brought back to life thanks to the harnessed mind powers of the one hundred most powerful telekinetics on the planet. Every time he wakes up from his ‘nap’, he’s back to upholding the law, and wiping the remains of criminal scum off his boots.
At first I saw Officer Downe as kind of an Americanized version of Judge Dredd, but I quickly dismissed that comparison due to the fact that Officer Downe is 100% more hardcore than I’ve ever seen Judge Dredd to be. He is a living, breathing, killing machine; a one man army who doesn’t know how to quit. He battles armies of tracksuit wearing ninjas, super-powered prisoners, and even has time in between to please the ladies. The bloody massacres that Burnham illustrates are things of beauty, and it’s page after page of pure gory joy.
In the back-matter you have a great behind the scenes look at Burnham’s art, with commentary on how his artistic process (like how he decides which lines to ink). Also included is his sketchbook, and some wonderful pin-ups of Officer Downe by the likes of Nick Pitarra, Nathan Fox, Kyle Strahm and more.
While this entire story was just a one-shot, it makes me crave another Officer Downe adventure sometime in the future, in whatever format I can get it in. If you were to blend Kill Bill, The Expendables, The Fifth Element, and some of the artistic stylings of Geof Darrow, Seth Fisher and Moebius, you would get the greatness that is Officer Downe.
So while Officer Downe definitely isn’t suitable for the younger audience, it’s absolutely essential to readers who love themselves some over-the-top action and violence, with limbs flying everywhere as if it were confetti. Joe Casey and Chris Burnham are on their way to being the next best creative team since Brubaker and Phillips, and oh what a wonderful world that will be.
Don’t delay, pick it up today, tell ‘em Cammy sent you their way.