REVIEW: ‘The Scumbag,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Scumbag #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Rick Remender, art by Lewis LaRosa, colors by Moreno Dinisio, and letters by Rus Wooton. Ernie Clementine is one of the worst people on Earth. He will do anything for his next high. He’s insulting, abrasive, and treats all those around him like dirt. Now, by happenstance, he is the one man that can save millions of people. And the clock is ticking.

It’s an interesting proposition writer Remender has taken on in this story. Making a book focusing on a person that exhibits so many terrible characteristics. Typically, your main character is someone likable. Or, at the very least, relatable. Trying to anchor a story to a personality that is designed to put the reader off is a task and a half. The story has to be interesting enough to make the reader want to continue, despite their feelings toward the lead. Does The Scumbag #1 manage to sell its story well enough? Maybe. It definitely isn’t going to be for everybody though. Let’s get into it.

Remender certainly nails the concept of his protagonist right off the bat. Ernie does everything he possibly can to be obnoxious. In his first scene, he gropes a waitress, steals from patrons at the bar he is in, and insults every individual who makes the mistake of acknowledging him. And that’s not even his lowest. Whether it’s worse to steal from a charity collection to get your next hit or be caught in the middle of a crowded street trying to administer said hit while also having a bowel movement, I’ll leave up to you to decide. So yeah, Ernie is one of the most abrasive, rude, and off-putting people I’ve ever read a book about.

Ernie’s life and the lives of a lot of people are about to change though. When he mistakingly stumbles into an espionage slugfest he ends up shooting himself up with a special serum that will grant him the abilities to save a city. If his new government handlers can get him to do it that is.

The Scumbag #1 sets up what may be the ultimate “fish out of water” story. Not only is Ernie completely unequipped and unprepared for his new situation, but he’s also completely uncaring. He clearly sees people simply as objects, and getting him to put himself on the line for them is going to be a tall order. This is where I see The Scumbag’s true potential. In the journey, everyone around him will have to take to get him to be what he needs to be.

Unfortunately, we don’t get introduced to anyone who feels like an ongoing character, aside from Ernie till late in the issue. The supporting cast is going to need to be really strong to carry the lead. This is true both in story and for the reader. If the characters that we do meet, and those yet to be introduced can pull it off, it could be a unique tale. For those with the stomach for it.

The art in The Scumbag #1 deftly enhances the book’s narrative. From the sleazy dive bar our story opens in, to capturing a secret agent throw down, LaRosa manages to be flexible with his art, as he captures both situations splendidly. And the same deft skill is applied to Ernie himself. From is off-kilter strut through the bar, to his embarrassing moment in the street, LaRosa pulls no punches is highlighting exactly what kind of man Ernie is. This artistic work is further aided by Dinisio’s colorwork. The colors are used effectively to bring out all the moods and energy in the narrative.

Lastly, we have The Scumbag #1’s lettering. Letter Wooton delivered the story with a look that fits its narrative. Instead of using the industry-standard font for much of the book Wooton goes with a bit rougher text format. This leans into the setting and tone of the story nicely. It’s only when the spy element shows up that the text reverts to the cleaner standard font. Further emphasizing the roughness of the leads speech style.

So, while The Scumbag #1 delivers a story that will definitely not be for everyone, I think it shows a lot of promise. There is certainly tons of space for Ernie to develop in the coming issues. If Remender and team can work some magic,  this could be a solid start to a unique, and original tale.

The Scumbag #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

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TL;DR

So, while The Scumbag #1 delivers a story that will definitely not be for everyone, I think it shows a lot of promise. There is certainly tons of space for Ernie to develop in the coming issues. If Remender and team can work some magic,  this could be a solid start to a unique, and original tale.