In the first issue of Joe Casey’s The Bounce, we’re introduced to a slacker superhero called The Bounce. Jasper Jenkins is the drug induced hero. His flatmate, Zander, is equally drug-influenced, but unequally superhero-influenced. At the end of issue #1 we have been introduced to a character called The Fog while Jenkins is a little confused about his predicament.

We open issue #2 with more confusion; Jasper and Zander coming to terms with their situation. Zander is a little bummed about the situation, so hurls himself off a building, perhaps knowing that Jasper will come after him. Save him. Which he does. However, another costumed hero, dressed in white and red, swoops in from nowhere to rescue Zander. As Jasper continues to fall, he seems to hallucinate and lands as himself, surrounded by both cops and villains. In the continued confusion, Jasper is arrested. Cut to six months ago and Jasper and Zander are talking to a friend in a diner about signing up for drug trials. A project called MKUltra. In the real world, of course, this is the US government project experimenting in the behavioral engineering via the CIA in the 1950s to 1970s. Which is where the explanations start to begin.

Which is where the comic book actually starts being enjoyable. It’s all very well asking lots of questions and throwing plenty of confusion at both the protagonist and the reader, but the longer that there is no plot development that makes sense to the reader, the less likely the reader will stick with it. Which means that Casey just about pulls it out of the bag, which he does with the flashback. It asks more questions – for example, the red and white saviour of Zander is in only 2 panels and no further explanation is forthcoming – than it answers, but it is a good start.

In the spirit of the Casey’s post-modern take on superhero comics, the writing is fun and witty without being remarkable or particularly original. I like that he’s incorporated a conspiracy classic from a bygone era, which might be unfamiliar to some readers. Which gives the characters room to play. There is a humorous twist at the end which makes the reader want to know what happens next. David Messina’s art is fine. Nothing special but suits the comic well. Slightly rough around the edges and some nice shadow work. There are a couple of interesting panels late on when the action is blurred, almost cinematic, which is cool.

I’m still not sure about The Bounce. The plot has its moments and there’s nothing wrong with any of the comic in theory, but it doesn’t quite work yet. Maybe its lack of any real personality emerging from Jenkins, or any clarity about what and who The Fog is. I want it to say something about what superheroes are or what slacker life is like, but so far, it isn’t really saying anything to me as a reader.

Rating: 3/5
Reporter: Ian J Simpson

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