Piggin’ Out #5

As Pigs heads into a second arc which almost completely ignores the previous one, so Piggin’ Out returns to give you that sweet sense of consistency you crave. “San Quentin Blues” lobs the five little piggies into a room together, has them try to hash out the next move in their operation, and seems to be heading into a ‘Prison Break’ style change in tone. Both in that the tone changes completely between storylines, and in that we think there’s going to be a prison break imminent. Let’s get into it! Spoilers ahoy.

The central chunk of this story has the five little piggies (we’re really trying to get that to stick. Also, hoping that two of them die) in a hotel room together, trying to plan a jailbreak. Only, it appears that three of them are now doubtful about the mission. And it’s not a jailbreak, but an assassination. We already knew that Felix and Alexandr were dubious about the mission, but not we’re starting to see some definition for Ekaterina as well – who seems terribly cautious about the assassination. Her scenes with Felix don’t spell out anything, but suggest heavily that she trusts him more than anyone else. But on the other hand, it’s clear now that Havana is siding with Victor against Felix, and she seems to be calling most of the shots right now. This is all speculation based on Breno Tamura’s use of body language, but it certainly seems to be how the creative team want us to see things right now.

No sign of any of the handlers this issue, made clear by the lack of flashbacks. Instead we have flashforwards, showing a man in a prison cell who’s just become a foot shorter. This is the most confusing part of the issue, and emphasises one of the more annoying parts of reading a mystery: it’s mysterious. Readers already have no idea what’s going on with most of the Cubans and Russians, and now we’re thrown into a new set of mysteries which likely won’t be cleared up for at least a few more months. It looks, from the way the story unfolds, that the five piggies send in somebody to perform an assassination within San Quentin Prison. However, that man is caught before he gets to his target – by a neo-nazi prisoner who appears to be acting as a bodyguard to said mystery target – and has his leg cut off. It’s hard to tell what’s happened though, because Cosby and McCool refuse to spell things out. Once more, they stick rigidly to a realistic, exposition-free narrative, and the dialogue gives away nothing. It could be that the neo-nazi is a red herring, or that he was the intended target, or even that he is the assassin that Felix is buying. Until next issue, we’re probably not going to be able to tell.

So for the moment, let’s focus on our five main characters. Felix is already an open book for the readers, with Alexandr the next more developed member of the cast. So it becomes Victor’s turn to develop as a character, as he talks with Felix about his frustrations. This is the best-done scene in the issue, which plays strongly to Tamura’s strengths as an artist. Tamura’s art has slipped since he first began, with his work now starting to resemble Larry Stroman’s linework. No bad thing, but it certainly seems like he may need some assistance in future issues to help him keep a consistent level of quality. Half of Victor’s conversation is silences and pauses, and the writers lean heavily on Tamura to make sure that the unspoken subtext is clear for readers – and he has yet to let them down. Victor comes across very strongly in the issue: he doesn’t come across as likeable, but he certainly starts to make a stronger impression for the readers. He’s a little reckless, a little enthusiastic, and it’s clear he’s going to become a problem for Felix over the rest of the series. This could come across as clichéd, but McCool and Cosby manage to temper the character by giving him some neat touches – his admiration for Victor’s reputation, for example.

Kicking us into a second storyline, Pigs #5 has a few disappointments, but remains one of the strongest monthly titles in the comics market right now. The dialogue is spot-on, realistic and clever, while Tamura’s use of expression is top-notch. We’re a little confused by the nature of this second arc – why do they want someone in this prison dead, anyway? – but are confident that it’ll be cleared up in due time.


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