Review: “Black Friday” (Scout Comics, Jolly Jinglings Special)
Welcome to Jolly Jinglings, The Splintering’s holiday celebration of all things merry and bright!
Today, we’re going to kick off the season by taking a look at Black Friday, a three-issue miniseries written and colored by Jon Clark, illustrated by Travis Williamson and published by Scout Comics.* There will be light spoilers ahead.
Black Friday is named for the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, which is unofficially known as the start of the Christmas shopping season. Known for deep discounts, large crowds, and oftentimes ill tempers and violent outbursts, Black Friday has a mixed reputation when it comes to public perception.
Scout Comics’ Black Friday takes place in a fictitious big box retail store named Star-Mart, which has just closed its doors after a long Black Friday sales day. While cleaning and restocking the store, two Star-Mart staff employees named Javier and Ceci discover a bloody stain on the floor. After realizing that there was a similar incident on Black Friday the previous year in the exact same location in the store, the two start to investigate the more closely. They eventually find a dark pit filled with mangled bodies, and that’s the end of issue one.
Yeah – not much happens in issue one. It’s really drawn out, the dialogue isn’t terribly insightful, and you don’t even get to see the monsters until issue two. The full three-issue arc is clearly “written for the trade”, as issue one is all setup, issue two is a bloodbath, and issue three is where a darker conspiracy really begins to take shape. The finale isn’t terribly satisfying, though, as the explanation of the conspiracy is very superficial and doesn’t make a lot of sense. The tone of Black Friday is fairly lighthearted, and I’d almost say that it is intended to be a “comedy horror” story. Why would I almost say that? Because it’s not very successful as a comedy. Only a few of the jokes land, most don’t, and the constant retail store quotes like “cleanup on aisle five” serve more to make the characters seem shallow than they do to get laughs.
On the artwork side, the undead beasts look really cool, but like I mentioned above, you don’t see them until issue two. That’s also when things get violent, and things do get really violent. The creatures essentially act as oversized zombies, tearing Star-Mart’s employees limb from limb, and chowing down on anything they can get in their toothy mouths. Otherwise, the art of the human characters is very unique and slightly exaggerated, giving them all a decent sense of expression. There are also a lot of vertically-oriented panel layouts, which make for a unique read.
If I had purchased issue one of Black Friday at my local comic shop, I almost certainly would not have purchased the second issue. The pacing was so slow and so little happens that there would have been little impetus for me to keep going. Once the action gets going in issue two, everything picks up, though I wouldn’t say that the story sticks the landing when issue three closes out. If you’re looking for a festive book, Black Friday doesn’t really do too much with its holiday setting, but if you are a fan of zombie-esque horror books, you’ll probably find some enjoyment in the full three-issue Black Friday arc. In any case, recommend either waiting for a trade paperback or committing to all three issues, but even then, it’s a toss-up.
*Disclosure: Copies of Black Friday issues 1-3 were provided to The Splintering for the purpose of this review.
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