COMICS: Alberto Ponticelli and Tatjana

Alberto Ponticelli and Tatjana
Egon (issue #1)
Shock Studio/Darkhorse Comics

Darkhorse Comics is without a doubt the undisputed champ of independent comics, thanks in no small part to its penchant for locating talented undiscovered artists and writers and uniting them for memorable miniseries and one-shots. The fruits of this artistic individuality are legendary and such memorable (and ultimately profitable) tales as The Mask and Timecop are just a few of the stories that would never have made it to print without Darkhorse's help.

In its new two-part series, Egon, the Milwaukie, Oregon, publisher debuts the talents of a previously unknown Italian artistic duo. The story follows the quest of Egon, an apparent escapee from a correctional facility for the criminally insane, as he seeks to atone for "mistakenly" slaughtering two people by becoming a foster parent to their newly orphaned children. Ever the delusional maniac, Egon seeks to reshape the children's psyches into his own twisted image, inflicting serious bodily harm upon any who come too close to his own trademark style of Groucho Marx eyeglasses and fake nose. Unfortunately, his attempt to become a father figure backfires, and at story's end "Uncle Egon" finds himself beset upon by the little hellions.

As one would expect from such a sadistic tale, the book contains ample scenes of graphic violence. Egon's m.o. involves killing his victims with everyday items like golf clubs and wrenches: One can only imagine how much red ink was spilled on the first issue alone. Unfortunately, the artists go so far overboard with the gore as to leave the reader skeptical of the story's purpose in the first place. Perhaps the idea was to showcase Ponticelli, but his art seems a blatant bastardization of Simon Bisley's Judge Dredd comics; likewise, the script demonstrates an obvious infatuation with such gore writers as Frank Miller and James O'Barr, but without their creative vision or storytelling relevance.

For now, Egon stands as the perfect example of the thin line between the comic book as an art form and as a mere tool for shock value. Hopefully, Darkhorse will learn from this effort that, despite its reputation for giving undiscovered hopefuls a chance, there are good reasons why some stories remain untold.

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