Of all the trades you’re going to find in Artists Alley, SWERVE is one of the top three you’re likely to come across. It’s possibly one of the greatest crime books to come from a writer whose name wasn’t Brian Azzarello or Ed Brubaker.
Meet Eric Layton. It’s 1976, and his pro-football career has just been destroyed by a bum knee. He didn’t have a backup plan, so he winds up joining Tony Frank’s wrestling company, hoping to make enough money to send back home for his mom’s operation. (Heart of gold? Check.) The problem is, Frank’s kind of a scammer, and wrestling for him just gets
chump change, no more.
Luckily (or unluckily) for
Layton, Frank has another business: crime.
Drugs, porn, you name it, he’s got a hand in it. Hungry for the money he needs for his mom, Layton starts
moonlighting as a criminal. Sure enough,
money comes pouring in, enough to take care of his mom, but before long, he
finds that he can’t face his family anymore.
Some of the things he’s had to do . . . it turns his guts. Soon, he wants out, and with his only friend,
a wrestler and fellow criminal named Joe, by his side, he tries to run a game
on Frank. As you can probably guess,
that doesn’t go very well for everybody involved.
On a basic level, this sounds like a typical crime story, but the details are what makes it so much more than that. This book is full of dark shit, friends. Not only do we have a protagonist who has killed and killed often, but we also have a staggering amount of betrayals, rape, kiddie porn, and so much more, it’s like taking a vacation to Hell. But juxtaposed as it is against the wrestling world . . . wow. As
Layton learns some of the tricks of the
wrestling trade by day, he learns how to kill people and live with himself by
night. Except he doesn’t master that
whole living-with-himself thing.
Writer Jon Judy has an amazing voice. It hits all the right beats, it flows like a shotgun blast of poetry. With an artist like Dexter Wee to work with, it makes things all the easier. By the time you’re finished with this book, you’ll have blood on your fingers; it just gushes from the book.
It’s practically flawless. The only problem is the prologue. Since this is told from
point of view, and he’s not in the prologue, it’s hard to fit it in with the
rest of the book, especially since it’s told in his voice. That said, the prologue is a masterful story
in and of itself.
You need to add SWERVE to your collection. That’s all there is to it.
Written by Jon Judy
Illustrated by Dexter Wee
Published by Arcana
More pages than any other book in Artists Alley this year