REVIEW: Combat Jacks #2 – Return To Earth
By Jeff Ayers
Creator/Writer/Inker: Mark McKenna
Co-Writer: Sam Eggleston
Artists Jason Baroody, Tom Chu and Blair Smith
Banana Tale Press
In true B-movie horror fashion, writer and artist Mark McKenna serves up an ample dose of action, gore, and fun with his second issue of Combat Jacks. Seriously, you have to know what you are in for right from the cover of this book, and it totally delivers what we all are in dire need of: more monster pumpkins!
The events of this issue pick up pretty much right after “Combat Jacks #1”, and if you don’t have that, go over to the Combat Jacks website, or follow the creator Mark McKenna on Facebook to find out where he is appearing next to pick up a copy in person! McKenna is a talented veteran of the comic book industry, lending his artistic skills to books for DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and others. Combat Jacks is his own creation and he has teamed up with some equally awesome artists and writers to craft the story.
The first issue found a group of space marines, the Interplanetary Security Force, checking out a terraforming station on a remote planet that had went silent. What they found was a large patch of pumpkins, or “Jacks”, that were thought to be dormant, but were the exact opposite. That team got into a little trouble, but not before they met a mysterious survivor named Mordecai Dixon, a man who has an uncanny resemblance to the series creator!
This issue brings in a new team of marines to try and sort out the terraforming station, and get the jacks under control. The life and death of the situation is all too real, as the players aren’t safe from the long vines of the monstrous pumpkins. The story shifts into the past as well, showing how these alien pumpkins terrorized Earth over 200 years ago, and what a group of farmers did to get out of that situation back then. The backstory definitely sweetens the pot, adding to the ethos McKenna is creating with the murderous pumpkin idea, and interjects some fun visuals to boot. With some sexual innuendo running rampant, and some blue language, the entire story gives that feel of a late night science fiction flick, like Starship Troopers meets Slither.
The “Best There Is”: For fans of sci-fi, horror, and humor, this book has them all, and then some. The talent behind Combat Jacks is evident on every page, with beautiful splash pages jumping right out at the reader, and well paced panel work moving the story along. The dialogue can feel slightly forced at times, but for good measure, because it reads like a pulp movie script in all the right areas. Both the main story with the space marines and the flashback to the farmers on earth end in cliffhangers, so it will be exciting to see where they pick up in issue 3.
The “Isn’t Very Nice”: I personally feel that not enough time is devoted to Mordecai Dixon as a character, as the mystery surrounding him is only prevalent to the other characters. The readers know more because of his inner dialogue and a narration at the front of the book, but I can’t wait to see more from this wild card to pop up in later issues. Also, creator owned independent comics are really the true gems of the comic world, and this book should land near the top of the heap. But, it is a tough uphill battle to create, and publish your own book, and it could benefit from more exposure and crowd funding. So make sure to follow Mark McKenna on social media sites, and watch for his next Indiegogo campaign for new issues.
FBI Score: 9 out of 10.
A truly fun, take no prisoners attitude gives this scrappy story about space marines and killer pumpkins the right look and feel. Clean art that pops off the page coupled with a well written script makes for a hell of a good time, and you might think twice the next time you find yourself near a pumpkin patch.