Mark continues his discovery of just how many layers of evil reside over his hometown…and starts to do something about it. Is it good?
Postal #4 (Image Comics)
Last issue, Mark got the crap beaten out of him. After a brief flashback to a traumatic (and very relevant) childhood memory, we open with him in the hospital receiving a healthy dose of medical treatment and malicious indifference from the town sheriff.
Meanwhile, Maggie is inspired by Mark’s words to take back control of her life. Why it took her so long to do what she does here is a little perplexing, but it still makes for a great character moment.
Mark and Maggie then decide to team up and take down the people who attacked him. This results in a number of revelations about Mark’s mother, Mark’s subconscious, and Mark’s strange new status quo in the series.
Is It Good?
I’ve been chomping at the bit to review this book for a while now, but did not due to my work being under consideration with one of the series’ creators, Matt Hawkins, for the Top Cow Talent Hunt. Now that I have been rejected, however, I’m free to give Mr. Hawkins a piece of my mind…which is that Postal continues to be an absolutely brilliant series.
The premise itself is cool enough, but it’s the detailed character work that has really drawn me into it, particularly with regards to Mark. I have a close family member with Aspergers and I have taught many children with it, as well. Trust me when I say this book gets it right.
If you want to understand Aspergers, I highly recommend Look Me In the Eye by John Elder Robinson. What Postal does, however, is weave Aspergers syndrome exceptionally well into the main character’s narrative. I didn’t review issue #3, but there is a great scene in it where Mark reminds himself that he is supposed to smile to let Maggie know she can trust him. This isn’t because Mark is a sociopath—he has plenty of empathy for others and he really is someone Maggie can trust. But for people with Aspergers, many of the unspoken social contracts that the rest of us adhere to don’t process the same way.
Person A: I just bought a new car.
Person B: What did you get? I ask this question because that is what I’m supposed to ask when you tell me you got a new car.
Person C (with Aspergers): I like dinosaurs. You just told me something about yourself, so now I’ll tell you something about me.
Mark also utilizes very concrete reasoning, even when he’s in the middle of an incredibly tense standoff. He may come off as aloof or an asshole to others, but he’s really not. He just sees the world in a way most people don’t understand. This isn’t some type of weird superpower, but Mark does utilize it to help him figure out who were the people that attacked him. Hawkins/Hill do a great job making sure that it’s also not just sprung out of nowhere to save him in a tight spot. The scene with him focusing on the sheriff’s crooked tie while working through the man’s doublespeak is a brilliant bit of foreshadowing to how that happens later in the issue.
“…and you smell like Axe Body Spray.”
Mark isn’t the only interesting character in this series, though. His mother goes from sympathetic to downright evil in just a few pages, but somehow remains completely believable. I’m still not sure whether I like her or not, but I can’t wait to see what she’ll do every time she shows up.
I’m still not sure why Maggie never tried what she did to the FBI agent before, but seeing her really cut loose has made her even more fun to root for.
About the only major problem I had with Postal #4 was the ending. We established a major villain, rearranged the pieces on the board…and now Mark’s helping other people with their problems (?). It felt a little out of nowhere considering what came before it, but I trust the creative team to make it work.
It should also go without saying by this point, but Isaac Goodhart is still killing it. I thought his pencils were great in the first issue, but a little too clean. Since then, they’ve gotten progressively more nuanced and foreboding. He also does a great job with facial expressions, which is no easy task when your main character is supposed to struggle with being expressive.
Postal has taken a fascinating premise and refused to let the story rest on its laurels. The characters and their individual narratives continue to evolve in very interesting ways. The only downside to this book right now is the long month we have to wait between each delivery.
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