It’s a comic that begins with Dick Cheney and Jay Leno showing up at a retired superhero’s private orgy palace and offering him three women to have sex with so he’ll go and kill all of the supervillains that he put away because keeping them in prison costs the taxpayers too much. Hell yes, good CBR readers, this is my kind of comic book. It’s a superhero comic not afraid to be both ‘mature’ and juvenile, basking in the sheer excessiveness of the genre, and applying that excess to areas that the Big Two superhero comics tend not to tread. “Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker” #1 brings to mind books like “Marshal Law,” “Brat Pack,” and Joe Casey’s own “Automatic Kafka” with a little bit of Americana wackiness thrown in.
Butcher Baker, an all American hero ala Captain America, does not immediately conjure images of wholesome role model, nor does he attempt to. There’s a gruff, almost seedy exterior to Butcher Baker, both in how he’s written and drawn. The first image we see of him is a hairy-chested hulk of a man with a thick mustache, smoking a cigar, wearing nothing but leather pants and gloves, and flanked by women under a sick pink glow. He mocks Cheney and Leno, and, in his narration, talks about the nature of superhero as being beyond their ‘suburban standards... their need to maintain the status quo.’
When he’s not having sex every seven to eight minutes (his refractory period), he’s driving a big rig painted up like the American flag at nearly 130 miles per hour and toying with any cop dumb enough to try and pull him over. The big rig/cop car sequence is big and harsh in its execution, Mike Huddleston dropping out all of the color except for the red and white of the truck plus the red of the siren. It’s a scene of heavy, frenetic blacks with splashes of color. The contrast between Butcher Baker and the cop is comical, with the hero calm and wearing a little grin, while the cop works himself up into a bigger and bigger frenzy, unable to understand how a person could be driving a truck like that.
Providing the line and color art, Huddleston makes Casey’s script his own, using a variety of styles to give each pages and sequence its own feeling and look. Butcher Baker, for example, is drawn with harder, sketchier lines, and never appears in color (aside from the pink glow) until the final page. Cheney and Leno, on the other hand, are drawn with much cleaner, controlled line work. He can shift from cartoony comedy (the car chase scene) to more traditional, ‘serious’ action, like when Butcher Baker begins his mission. The shifting styles works with Casey’s seemingly off-the-cuff improvisation style of writing, lending an ongoing energy to the comic.
If “Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker” can live up to the reputations of the comics I compared it to at the beginning of the review is hard to say. The first issue is an excellent start. It’s a comic that revels in being a comic, taking advantage of the medium to both inhabit and comment upon its dominant genre, the superhero.