In Christopher Cantwell and Luca Casalanguida’s Regarding the Matter of Oswald’s Body, readers are introduced to the team of down-on-their-luck people recruited to cover up the truth about what happened to Lee Harvey Oswald in the days following JFK’s assassination. That log-line alone is enough to get my conspiracy-loving brain firing, but the book ended up grabbing me in ways that I never expected.
This first issue acts mostly as an introduction to the cast, briefly touching on Oswald’s exhumation before jetting back in time and following the mysterious “Frank” as he puts this team together. As a result, a lot of the page count is devoted to getting to know the dire straits each of these characters are stuck in. All of them want to be taken seriously and respected for their work, whether it’s Buck hustling as a musician or Shep trying to build his own legend as a wannabe outlaw. They come from different walks of life, but they all want the same thing: for their lives to mean something. There’s a kind of quiet desperation to each of the characters we meet in this issue. And while some of them are criminals and others are hopeful enforcers of the law, it’s their shared refusal to quit and their status as outsiders that make them so endearing right away.
Outside of an ominous opening sequence involving a mysterious corpse (drawn to unsettling perfection by Casalanguida) and some eerily compelling back matter, this is by and large a character piece, mostly interested in giving us a feel for each of the members of this ragtag team. On that front, it totally succeeds, and I can’t wait to see how all of these misfits interact with each other — as well as what becomes of them.
What’s not quite so clear is where this series is going now that the band is all together. There are a few choice names/dates that will likely be instantly familiar to conspiracy nuts and history buffs, but this introductory issue also feels like it just barely scratches the surface of the book’s central mystery.
Even so, Cantwell’s down-to-earth dialogue and Casalanguida’s excellent artwork make this a story worth seeking out. The body language and “acting” between these characters sucks you into their plight, with each character having realistic reactions and interesting physical responses to Frank’s “pitch.” And the feeling that you don’t know what angle Frank is playing is so pervasive that it makes me want to check out the next issue as soon as possible. This issue is mostly concerned with laying a foundation upon which the series’ mythology may be built, and I’m already on board.
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