Remember Tackleberry from the “Police Academy” films? Played by the late David Graf, he was the semi-psycho member the gang, obsessed with the law and not afraid to bust some heads to get the job done. He was the sort of guy who, when asked by a frustrated mom to help get her son to leave the car and go to school, responded by shooting a smoke grenade through the back window. Terrence Downe is a bit like that if you turned the volume up to 11 and also made him basically immortal in the wonderfully over-the-top and ultraviolent “Office Downe” by the “Nixon’s Pals” creative team of Joe Casey and Chris Burnham.
The plot of “Officer Downe” is fairly simple: Terrence Downe was a regular, albeit enthusiastic police officer for the LAPD, but was killed in an accident and brought back to life using telekinetics. Now, he’s the LAPD’s special weapon: a focused, violent, driven, obsessed, slightly insane man that they can use on the various supervillain criminals in the city. The issue begins with him taking down a supercrank lab with ease until it’s blown up and he needs to be brought back. But, the takedown of the lab sets into motion the group behind it, sending Zen Master Flash after Downe.
This comic is just a lot of fun. Casey writes Downe as fairly straight and serious, but adds little touches like him narrating what he’s doing at various points. His single-mindedness makes him a strangely compelling character. And, of course, Casey writes bad guys like no one else. His bad guys enjoy being bad. They revel in it. They’re not misunderstood or good deep down, they choose to be bad and love the life. Zen Master Flash is entertaining in this regard because of his style. He’s skilled but cowardly at the same time. Plus, he’s got an army of tracksuit-wearing ninjas.
Chris Burnham’s work in this issue is the sort that will get people talking. He’s done good work in the past, but his Geoff Darrow-esque pencils here, full of intricate details and energy, are a big step up and show that he is the real deal. Since the plot of the issue is so simple, Burnham’s art carries the book quite a bit with his depiction of the action scenes. They’re violent and over-the-top, but also very dynamic and fluid. The second half of the issue is one extended action sequence and Burnham handles it well, especially the pages overloaded with panels. The series of cuts between Downe and his power source are fantastic at building the tension and mood of the book, but he also doesn’t lose detail or deliver rushed drawings with those smaller panels. And, let’s be honest, that’s pretty impressive for a two-page layout containing over 30 panels.
“Officer Downe” is a fun comic that revels in its violence and simplicity. Joe Casey adds the right mix of absurd situations and dialogue, while Chris Burnham’s art steals the show. This is exactly what you want from a one-shot featuring a new character.