The Scumbag #1 Review: An Original & Disgusting Origin Story

The Scumbag #1 puts its tagline right under the logo, so readers know what they're getting. "The world's fate rests with the worst person on it." Worst seems like a lot to live up to for this new book's lead character by writer Rick Remender, artist Lewis LaRosa, colorist Moreno Dinisio, letterer Rus Wooton, and designer Erika Schnatz. Let's see how the team does in creating this scumbag and if they've also created a comic worth reading along the way.

Scumbag #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics
Scumbag #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics

You ever watch a movie or read a comic from a decade or so ago and think, "Wow. They could've never gotten away with that in 2020." That is The Scumbag #1 in a nutshell. It's packed with did-he-just…? imagery and dialogue that quickly establishes the lead, Ernie, as a shockingly vile protagonist. Just as you begin to feel empathy for him, just as his situation looks tragic… he… Well, there's no way to say it, but he literally sharts your empathy away. The core concept is essentially giving this guy a superhero origin story, and, despite if readers will find the character worth investing in, the way it happens is stunningly clever. You'd think that every possible superhero origin story in comics would have been done, overdone, and redone in this medium, but The Scumbag shows up on the scene with two syringes to prove otherwise.

The Scumbag is obviously not a book about a decent man but will border on showing what some will probably deem as "too much." Personally, seeing a man eject a Starbucks tall cup worth of liquid shit from his ass only to, a few pages later, see a close-up of a man's dome leaking a huge helping of brains was… it was a lot. I can't say it didn't add to the debauchery that Remember and LaRosa are building here. This graphic depiction of both human filth and utter bodily ruin wasn't a purposeful, mood-building pillars of Scumbag. I think the measure of what is "too much" in a comic should move depending on the comic's goals, and The Scumbag #1's goal is absolutely to engender disgust within the reader. Disgust for Ernie, disgust for his situation, and disgust at the idea that this man is now humanity's only hope. The Scumbag does that well.

The Scumbag might not be for everyone, but it's an artful, purposeful, evocative depiction of debauchery. Time will tell if it's aiming for higher than that, but, as is, it succeeds in its goals.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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