Comics

When Justice Fails – Absolution (2009)

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When reading Absolution, one could say that the book is just the Punisher with super-powers.  And maybe it is a little bit, but at its heart the book is about a man and what he deems truth.  After everything, what does anything come down to except one man’s beliefs, your own beliefs?  Everyone does what they believe to be true, whether right or wrong.  Sometimes it can be very wrong, otherwise there would not be laws to govern criminals, but oftentimes we do what we deem to be right.  John Dusk, the hero of our book, does the same.

John Dusk is a super-hero, or an ‘enhancile’ who can generate an aura to create whatever shape or form he so chooses and in turn uses it while working for the police department.  He has a girlfriend named Karen, who is also a detective, and they work in the same department which only handles the worst of the worst cases, usually involving other enhanciles.  Soon, John is unable to leave his work at the station as the memories of the gruesome crimes start to haunt him and he slowly begins to go mad until he finds an outlet for his nightmares.

In the zero issue of this series, Christos Gage, the author, wrote that he intended the book to be a sort of Special Victims Unit drama, as he wrote for the show, but with the added foil of some cops having powers.  Due to his great storytelling ability, that is exactly what we got.  He looks at the psychological ramifications of what might happen and he then explores it through his protagonist, John Dusk.  John is a good guy and he knows wrong from right.  But sometimes, the law just is not enough.  And so, like Paul Kersey or Frank Castle, John sets off to do what he believes is right.

Gage also speaks to and of society somewhat at the same time in this story.  While we have laws and rules to govern our people and society, sometimes when bad things happen to us, we cannot help but wish the worst upon the perpetrators of our misery.  If a man kills your child or wife, you wish that man dead.  If someone breaks your legs or harms you gravely, you in turn wish him harm.  It is simple human nature and no matter how much we believe ourselves to be above such base feelings, they exist.  Gage does a great job exploring those emotions and really exemplifies it during one of the closing scenes in the last book with the public cheering for our hero as he escapes.

Overall, it is a pretty straightforward story, but one that goes a bit deeper than what we initially might believe it to be.  Those are the best kinds of tales, the ones that surprise and delight us when we discover the hidden layers beneath.  Christos Gage takes the vigilante concept, the super-hero idea and the police drama, adds his own spin on it and gives us a fantastic book about one man who underneath it all, represents every one of us.

5 out of 5

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