Have you ever read a comic that you felt got better as it went on, and when you reached the end you were ready to go out and buy the next trade…only to find that what you hold in your hand IS the only trade? Desolation Jones is one of those comics.
Desolation Jones is the story of an ex-CIA spook who participated in the Desolation Experiment, in which he was kept awake and strapped to a gurney for an entire year. The process has left his body battered and broken, and his mind/personality slightly crazy. Jones is still the best freelancer out there, and is hired to find the only existing copy of a porn film that Hitler made. If that’s not good enough, Hitler wasn’t just the maker of this film…he was also the star of the show. As you can imagine, Desolation Jones one is not for the kiddies.
This first trade paperback (known as “Made in England”) collects issues 1-6. It really got my interest piqued in the characters and their world, making me wish there were more trades. Unfortunately, there have only been a couple of singles released in the past year or two, and the series appears to be on hold or ::gulp:: abandoned. Luckily, even though this is a “Volume 1” trade, it has an ending that wraps up the loose ends in the story. Subsequent issues would likely follow other jobs Jones gets hired for, so if the series truly is dead, you still have a sense of closure at the end of the first TPB (provided you don’t read the singles released since the first trade was put out). While the world of espionage can be quite confusing at times, Warren Ellis has crafted an intricate yet easy to follow tale, filled with interesting characters and a storyline that takes expected (and unexpected) twists and turns.
Jones himself is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and even though his past and how he came to be is explored in “Made in England”, I still feel like I barely know the guy. It’s quite clear that he is resourceful, smart, and does whatever it takes to get the job done. He has the intelligence and control to determine if something would help or hinder his efforts. In this way, he is far less mindless than you might think, and even though his reaction to most situations is to break, shoot, or blow something up, he really does assess every situation and act accordingly. His friendship (relationship? It’s never made clear) with a character whose pheromones make everyone fearful of her is the only time any form of softness is shown in his personality. Still, much of the story focuses on his actions rather than his reasons for acting that way.
The art style is rich and full, although the order that panels are supposed to be read in can be a little confusing at times. The use of colours and shadows plays a huge role in this comic, more so than in many others. Like Asterios Polyp, the colours presented can affect the entire scene if you pay attention to them. Subtle hints and emotion are conveyed effectively, and the expressions shown on characters faces are full and easy to read. Overall, this is a fantastic story. It’s a shame that the series appears to have been abandoned, but if you can handle wanting more when there isn’t any, you should definitely check out Desolation Jones.