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Little to celebrate in Dark Horse’s ‘Father’s Day’

Little to celebrate in Dark Horse’s ‘Father’s Day’

Father’s Day #1
Written by Mike Richardson
Art by Gabriel Guzmán, Java Tartaglia
Dark Horse Comics

fathers day

It’s de rigeur to knock Hollywood for being out of ideas, but then along comes Father’s Day. It is Dark Horse’s four-issue miniseries combining two well-worn tropes: The hitman with a heart and the child as apprentice killer, as originated in the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series and repeated in so many action films (Luc Besson’s Leon/The Professional, Hanna, Kick Ass et al).

Though plotter (and Dark Horse publisher) Mike Richardson gets things into motion with admirable swiftness, the familiarity of the elements in play is evident from the cover image on down, and the characterizations dishearteningly rote and the action uninspiring.

Our killer/daddy figure is Silas, who we will learn was once known in Chicago’s criminal underworld as The East Side Butcher. We join him, however, in a beautiful home sitting on a peaceful seashore where Richardson, being about as subtle as a sledgehammer, has him capture and release a spider (“Safe travels, little brother,” says Silas) while reading The Road to Inner Peace. So, he’s a pacifist then.

There’s a knock on the door. It’s a fiery young girl who says hello with a punch to the gut and explains she’s Denise, the daughter he left behind who doesn’t  understand it was for her own good. She’s been showing Silas’s picture all over the area for a week or more so, naturally, a group of black-suited killers shows up just then and the over-familiar story is properly underway.

Part one builds to an altogether predictable like father, like daughter scene (the one unfortunately spoiled on the cover) that would have worked better had Richardson, and illustrator Gabriel Guzmán (whose work certainly lacks nothing in any technical sense) been willing to go much more over-the-top. Although they’re borrowing from some great material, they seem to have missed that it’s the juxtaposition of hyper-violence and childhood innocence that gives those sources (particularly the Lone Wolf and Cub films and Kick Ass) their operatic kick.

Father’s Day may well be building to something approaching that magnitude, but if the lack of character nuance and PG-lite approach to the action seen so far define the remainder of the series, it’ll be more whimper than scream.




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