So there's this guy, a superhero, and he's called "the Bounce." What do you suppose his power is? If you guessed that it's basically the silliest power since talking to sea creatures, you'd be right. The weird thing is that "The Bounce" #1 by Joe Casey and David Messina isn't really a silly comic. It's a serious comic, with some cool ideas, that just happens to feature a stoner hero whose power is (you guessed it!) bouncing.
Writer Joe Casey seems bent on exploring the seedier side of life in his work these days. At least "The Bounce" doesn't have as blatant a title as his ongoing "Sex." Nevertheless, hero Jasper Jenkins smokes weed by day and bounces around fighting crime by night, and drugs are a lot of what the comic is about. Jasper even gets into trouble by trying the hot new drug supplied by street villain the Fog. (All the supers so far have names like that: the Bounce, the Fog, the Crush, the Darling.) That being said, the second half of the comic shows a lot of promise as it moves away from the themes of smoking and bouncing. There's a lot more going on behind the scenes, and the issue has a few unexpected twists that promise that "The Bounce" will be more than just an attempt at the next "Kick-Ass," a book about a street-level slacker hero.
David Messina's art is top-notch. It has a Tony Harris look to it, a sort of cartoon realism that fits the comic's blend of the mundane and the bizarre. Every panel is carefully composed and drawn with loving detail. The action scenes are clear and dramatic. His character designs are appealing, too, even if they don't break any new ground, though the Bounce himself has a sort of S&M vibe that looks a lot darker than you'd expect from a hero whose fight-scene sound effects include "sproing" and "bee-oing." Again, the comic exists in a gray area between serious and silly, and it's curious to watch Messina walk that line with Casey.
I have high hopes for "The Bounce." The first half falls a bit flat, but as the wider world in which Jasper Jenkins operates is slowly revealed, it becomes hard not to be intrigued and excited. Casey has clearly put a lot of thought into the universe he's created for this comic, and it shows. What remains to be seen is whether the payoff will live up to the hints being dropped. The series will probably live or die on the new few issues, as they answer some of the questions raised in the first, including an excellent cliffhanger ending. Meanwhile, Casey and Messina should decide whether they're writing a serious book or not, or at least they should talk to the Image marketing team, who have been selling "The Bounce" as "the ultimate slacker superhero!" The comic is clearly about a lot more than that, and it would be a shame to see potential readers turned off because they expect nothing but weed jokes.