Thursday, March 25, 2004

SNAP JUDGEMENTS by Randy Lander
http://www.thefourthrail.com/reviews/snapjudgments/032204/wasted.shtml

WASTED: FINAL EDITION
Highly Recommended (9/10)


Wasted is going to be a little difficult to get hold of, as it is not currently available through distributors, but it's worth dropping an email to creator Gerry Alanguilan. Wasted is a nihilistic poem of violence and love gone wrong, one of the most intense and uncompromising portrayals of insanity that I've seen in print with a touch of failed romance that makes it something we can all relate to in our darkest moments. Eric, a jilted lover, takes out his rage not just on himself and his former lover but on anyone who gets in his path. Alanguilan is best known in the American comics market as an inker, but his full art here is very strong, exceptional in terms of conveying the kinetic energy and bloody aftermath of Eric's rampage.

Wasted does not have a plot that runs terribly deep. Eric is dumped by his girlfriend for another man, and goes completely batshit insane. Alanguilan adds a little bit of detail with Eric's father and a sketchy plot about a corrupt political figure, but it felt like an unnecessary complication to me, albeit one that provided a nice surprise moment near the climax of the story. While the plot may not be complex, however, the emotions that are raging through the protagonist certainly are. He's not just enraged by losing a woman, but he's had a total psychotic break, with delusions and unguided anger amplifying his justly deserved anger until it becomes an almost palpable force.

Eric is not what you'd call the world's most sympathetic character. He murders indiscriminately, and as the story goes on, even ventures into the realm of psychological torment of innocent people who should be having the happiest day of their lives. In fact, by the time the book ended, I actually hated Eric. And yet... I found myself completely drawn to the character. It's possible that there are some folks out there that have never felt the sting of betrayal or the pain of a love lost, but I'd bet there aren't many of you out there. Most will be able to relate on some level to the intense pain that Eric is going through, even as they are appalled at the actions that these emotions drive Eric to.

Alanguilan's art throughout Wasted varies in quality. Some of it is excellent, some mediocre, most falls solidly into the capable category. While Alanguilan could use some more consistency in his characters and more detail on backgrounds and in general, even the weakest art in the book has a lot to offer. Alanguilan's storytelling choices, moving the camera into unusual places, are very intriguing, and the high point of that particular talent comes at the tail end of the story, when we see Eric's fate played out in what is essentially static panel slow motion. In addition, the entire comic nearly vibrates with intensity, and the tension coming off the highly-strung Eric is easy to feel, just as it's easy to be shocked by the sudden eruptions of blood and violence throughout the story.

If you're in a dark mood, or you've just broken up with someone, Wasted is as good as a Nine Inch Nails album played at top volume or a good drunken binge. It's a release for the creator, a sort of dark wish fulfillment that only fiction can give, but it can serve the same sort of release for the reader as well. Wasted has a story that is fairly simple, but the emotions that drive the story and the actions that the protagonist takes will stay with the reader for quite some time.

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