Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips give readers another great read with 2019’s release of Bad Weekend, a story full of mystery, intrigue, and the feeling that even though this story is set in 1997, it could just as well be happening right now—and, probably is. The arc is a continuation of the current Criminal series, and this book collects issues #2 and #3 of the arc. This book brings in what readers have loved from their long body of work together, including 2018 Eisner Award winner My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, with characters who aren’t what they seem, the seedy underbelly of a community, and a final twist that readers won’t see coming.
Jacob used to be Hal Crane’s assistant before it ended badly, Hal treated him poorly, and he quit. He hasn’t worked in comics since. But now the organizers of the big comics convention—Comic Fest—have called. It seems like Hal is getting a Lifetime Achievement Award, and he wants Jacob—only Jacob—to be his minder for the weekend. Jacob, against his better judgement, decides to do it, but what awaits him this weekend is something he couldn’t have imagined.
Hal Crane, the design and storyboard artist for Danny Dagger and the Fantasticals, is being honored for his years of work in comics. But, he’s not happy, hasn’t been for a long time. Now that the series has gone mainstream, he’s bitter and unhappy with how he’s been treated by the comics industry and everyone who profits from it. He sees a chance in this weekend to find something he’s been desperately searching after for a long time. Will he find it? He thinks so, but there’s something he doesn’t know about the person he really should be searching for.
This beautifully illustrated graphic novel for adults is set in what seems like the dusty air of a big city with many of the panels set during the dark hours of the night or in shady back rooms and apartments. The watercolor quality of the coloring is beautiful and, as most of the characters seem to be in shadow constantly, there prevails a sinister and mysterious tone to the brightly colored backgrounds. Brubaker and Phillips’ words and illustrations always work beautifully together and depend on each other to bring the somber atmospheric tone to the work at large. As readers move through the world, they will go deeper and deeper into the undercurrent of the comics community and how people use other people, their works, and their lives to advance their own careers. Jacob and Hal are both likable and not, indicative of what they have internalized and practiced so that they themselves can get ahead in comics and in life. But at what cost? And will Hal ever find what he’s looking for? Will Jacob? Will anyone?
Bad Weekend is another beautiful, prolific, and telling story from the dynamic duo of Brubaker and Phillips. Adults and older teen readers will revel in the beautiful illustrations and story that one can read in one sitting. But once is not enough for this story; readers will start to see more and more of the hidden and obscured pieces the more times they read the book. While readers will want to see more of Hal and Jacob, this vignette will show exactly everything they need to know, with some mysteries whispering behind the panels.
By Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
Image Comics, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: 17+