Review: “Jawbreakers: Lost Souls”
It seems like those predisposed to hate Jawbreakers take it far more seriously than the creators do. Jawbreakers: Lost Souls was never intended, nor was it advertised as a deep social commentary. It was always pitched as a politics-free, action adventure graphic novel, and that’s exactly what Lost Souls delivers.
Lost Souls quite literally “hits the ground running,” as the titular Jawbreakers are making their escape from the French authorities who are less than thrilled with the superhero team’s methods. No sooner than they make their escape, the mercenary heroes are coaxed into another mission by a sultry Nigerian native named Xaxi, who pays them quite handsomely to eliminate an oversized, simian-shaped problem (who is NOT named Kong).
Is it simple? Yes, but it’s also fun. While the action in Lost Souls is fast-paced, it is also varied enough to stay interesting throughout. For the most part, each Jawbreaker team member gets a chance to shine, and the camaraderie between them is evident very early on.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Jawbreakers: Lost Souls was how funny it was. The light-hearted jabs that the team members volley back and forth are sometimes juvenile, but they’re also very “burrrrn”-worthy, particularly between Silkworm and Kuffz. There are also a few gags that play off your expectations, and while I won’t spoil any of them here, I have to admit that I never expected the telecom business to be so funny. Throw in a few references lifted from classic 80’s action movies and the Jawbreakers’ take on the “fastball special” X-Men gag, and you have a great mix of humor that will demand return readings.
The other feature of Lost Souls that will bring you back for a second look is the artwork by illustrator Jon Malin and colorist Brett R. Smith. Malin’s dynamic style is a great fit for the action-heavy tale, and Smith’s colors bring the line art to life in sometimes jaw-dropping ways, whether it’s setting a scene with the perfect sunrise or capturing the alien nature of a an interdimensional portal. Each character was uniquely brought to life, and even some of the minor players have their own unique touches that pull you into the page and immerses you in the Jawbreakers world. Xaxi was just goddamn gorgeous.
For those who backed the Jawbreakers: Lost Souls Indiegogo campaign, there were two additional backup stories, simply titled Jawbreakers books 1 and 2. While those are fully realized tales in their own right and are worth examining at some point, I’m currently limiting my reflections to Lost Souls, as it was always the main attraction from the get-go. Both Jawbreakers books 1 and 2 were great additions to an already impressive package.
Is Jawbreakers: Lost Souls the perfect action/adventure book? No. There are still a handful of gags that don’t always land, and there are very few places where the reader is asked to invest much in the Jawbreakers themselves. If you can imagine watching the first Avengers movie without having seen any of the solo films leading up to it, Lost Souls felt like the graphic novel version of that. Exciting, fun, but not a perfectly well-rounded effort. (Yes, the inclusion of Jawbreakers books 1 and 2 helps, but Lost Souls was intended to stand on its own, after all) It is still a recommended book, and for those wanting more from the Jawbreakers universe, there’s still Jawbreakers book 3 and the Devil Dog one-shot to look forward to.
Jawbreakers: Lost Souls is written by Richard C. Meyer and features illustrations by Jon Malin and colors by Brett R. Smith; published by Splatto Comics.
*Disclosure: the author of this reflection was a backer of the Jawbreakers: Lost a Souls Indiegogo campaign