Advance Review: ‘On The Stump’ By Brown And Prenzy Packs A Political Punch And Then Some

by Olly MacNamee

What sounds, on paper, to be a rather daft comic book premise – politicians of the future duking it out in the ring to pass legislative laws into being – is actually a far more serious satirical book than you might initially think. 
On The Stump #1, by Chuck Brown, Prenzy and Clayton Cowles is a fresh take on our broken political systems of today, but set in the future and then pumped up on steroids. The results are a promising comic book series that takes the side of the underdog and more honest politician (not by much, though), Senator Jack Hammer, who has just nearly lost yet another fight and therefore his argument. But, at the last he doesn’t and so to the victor goes the spoils and in this case, it the prevention of a very dangerous bill going being passed. A bill that would make it legal to kill your political opponent in the ring. Hmmm, now why would the more dominant and better connected rival to Jack Hammer, Senator ‘Sweet Smell’ Shaw want to do that, I wonder? And, why would a down and out slugger like Senator Jack Hammer decide to make this fight his comeback? Clearly there is more at stake here than simply the passing of a bill, albeit one that would have legalised murder by the state. But, when’s that ever stopped ’em, right?

What we do have is a political thriller in the making, but one set against a backdrop of the boxing ring and in the not-too-distant future to better comment on the contemporary and divisive politics of modern America. A gladiatorial arena into which all political animals must fight, or be erased from their positions. And, this being a political thriller, there are more than enough shady characters already introduced into this first issue to get you hooked. My particular favourites from this first issue are the tag teaming female mercenaries-for-hire who remind me somewhat of the dangerous double act of Mr Kidd and Mr Wint from Diamonds Are Forever, but with more swearing and far less camp. Much less camp indeed.
Prenzy’s loose, almost marker-like sweeping strokes gives a kinetic energy to the artwork that really works well, particularly in the opening fight scene, with blood and speed liens flowing aplenty across the page and giving the reared the kind of frenzied feel I imagine the creators were hoping for. 

Add to this a threat to the freedom of the press by the bully boys of American politics and some pretty gnarly and gory violent scenes and by the end of the issue any thoughts of a funny book about wrestling will be gone from your mind. A promising first issue from co-creator of Bitter Root, writer Chuck Brown, and one any politically sensitive reader may want to pick up when it’s released February 19th from Image Comics.

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