Sometimes in superhero comics, it’s difficult to believe there could be anything new under the sun. Every power and every tragic back story have been done. With The Bounce #1, writer Joe Casey finds himself straining towards modernity with a fresh new variation on the slacker/superhero, pushed to his logical extreme. Saving the day is a fleeting pass time for Jasper Jenkins, a diversion to be done between bong hits and bar runs. When he finds himself negotiating with a drug dealer in a club’s bathroom, it’s hard to discern whether he’s executing a sting operation, or just genuinely looking for a new high.
For all its straining towards hipness and edginess, The Bounce #1 can’t help but feel a tad familiar now and then. Police chiefs bark the usual orders while pontificating about vigilante justice, and a wealthy man in a suit shows some Russians an underground lair and reveals an evil plan. Most notably, super powers aside, Jasper Jenkins does little to distinguish himself from the well trodden stoner archetype. He even dresses like Shaggy from Scooby Doo, the protostoner. That being said, Casey and artist Dave Messina seem to have really hit on something with Jenkins simple yet endlessly amusing power: he rolls up in a ball and just bounces, like the Legion of Superheroes’ Bouncing Boy as reimagined by the marketing department over at Mountain Dew. In a story and world that feels so very much of the moment, it’s a quaint and endearingly uncool ability to base a superhero on. Hopefully, that marriage of the old school and the modern becomes a touchstone of the series going forward.
Speaking of Messina, he’s an absolute top form here. Reading The Bounce #1 feels like watching a major production. The art is bold, sharp, and cinematic. With his Spider-man poses and clean, elegant costume, Jenkins’ Bounce alter ego is instantly unforgettable. Messina has also built a fully realized world with his pencils and inks for The Bounce to live in. He brings atmosphere and ambiance to nearly every panel, and flashes an ease and grace with character expressions. Maybe most importantly, he nails a drug trip towards the end of the book, throwing psychedelic colours and iconic silhouettes across a pair of pages wit aplomb. With any luck, Jenkin’s won’t be ditching his bad habits any time soon, and Messina will have the opportunity to tackle a few more tumbles down the rabbit hole.