Comics Time: Sulk Vol. 2: Deadly Awesome

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Sulk #2: Deadly Awesome

Jeffrey Brown, writer/artist

Top Shelf, December 2008

96 pages

$10

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The first thing you have to do when you read Jeffrey Brown’s all-MMA issue of his new one-man anthology title is disabuse yourself of any preconceptions the phrase “86-page fight scene” may engender. I myself was picturing a lengthy Frank Milleresque wordless slobberknocker, a showcase of action choreography. Brown had other ideas, particularly on the “wordless” score: Nearly every panel of the three-round bout between the veteran thinking-man’s-fighter Haruki Rabasaku and the charismatic bruiser Eldark Garprub is captioned or ballooned with a breakdown of their thoughts, moves, or both. Instead of dazzling us with pyrotechnics–the closest he ends up getting to that is with the very idea of the book itself–Brown uses the constant narrative jibberjabber to a) impress us with his devotee’s understanding of MMA, and b) slow time to a crawl, making each round feel like an hour’s worth of battle to the combatants. It’s an interesting move that dovetails with the story’s occasionally ruminative feel, particularly the abrupt, downbeat ending and the sensitive treatment of the two fighters’ slightly cheesy but nevertheless sincerely articulated worldviews. Now that I think of it, the vibe given off is akin to arthouse wire-fu flicks like House of Flying Daggers, not with that level of beauty of course, but in the way physical combat is treated as something both impressive and sad.