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Finally, Ernie’s origin is over, and I’m praying after this issue I won’t go to hell for reading this travesty. After starting out strong and sometimes wavering past decent, this story ended with an almost indescribably bad bang.
Ernie’s on a mission to save the one person who seemed to care about him (besides his talking smiley-faced button), his psychiatrist Thana. But his foster father Buford is ready to try out his demonic powers on Ernie and Thana and with the threat of nukes being unleashed on the facility, will Ernie have enough time to save Thana?
The opening of this issue was the first hint the “Origin of Evil” wasn’t going to end on a high note. A woman named Eunice goes after Ernie who we haven’t gotten any background on despite writer Jesse Blaze Snider having looked at Ernie’s childhood in every previous issue. But who cares – Eunice gets brutally cut in half so fast most readers probably won’t even realize they had no idea who she is. There are also several things in this flashback that are unnecessarily added. Instead of the standard grey flashback color that every other issue has sported, this flashback is inexplicitly in color and there is a heart monitor behind Eunice when she dies which shows her flatlining. We’re now in a hospital and we don’t have to be told Eunice is dead. Unless you think someone who was cut in half by a car has a chance at survival.
Even after cutting her in half, however, is it bad to say I still can’t help but like Ernie? Yes, he’s killed 665 people, but he’s had a tough life and Snider does portray him as more of a hero in this issue instead of an antihero. His portrayal as a hero is one of the only things I like about this issue. I like this better than “Evil” Ernie because I can feel a little less bad rooting for Ernie. He even returns all the inmates he slaughtered back to life… another power which goes unexplained and is another addition to the insanely long list of powers Ernie has in his pointless arsenal.
There is some suspense in this issue since while I doubted Ernie would ever die considering the impressive invulnerability he’s shown over the past six issues, Thana is a living breathing women who’s life lies in the balance. Buford is a strong opponent. He makes a compelling villain and by spouting vulgar sayings in this issue, Buford makes you want to kill him. But the fight between him and Ernie was weak. Ernie uses another unexplained power which made the fight very confusing. This fight is a big part of the story, so this is a big problem.
Another problem is the dialogue. Snider tries to throw in puns here and there but Smiley was never funny and Ernie’s first attempt at humor was “Revengers… disassemble!” Probably the worst Avengers parody I’ve ever seen (seriously, Snider, take notes from The Almighties). I let it pass when Ernie said “I feel dead people” last time. But this I cannot let go of.
Deaths are also extremely brutal in this issue. Eunice is torn in two by a car right at the beginning and later, even though it doesn’t kill him, both of Ernie’s arms are torn off. For horror fans into uncomfortable brutality (and nothing else) this is right up your alley.
But other than Ernie’s heroic intentions and the amped up suspense of this issue, was there anything else to like here? Actually, there are two other little things about the story. How things are wrapped up with Thana actually really surprised me and made me feel something for this issue other than confusion and there is a reveal about Smiley on the very last page that was actually really good and made everything come full circle by referencing the first issue. It actually made me smile despite myself in the end.
Jason Craig’s artwork never made me smile and it actually made some panels even more confusing than the story was making them. For instance, when Ernie is thanking God you would think he’s having an expression of gratitude if he was being serious, which I thought he was, but Craig made his expression look pissed off. If he was being sarcastic, it didn’t seem appropriate since the situation appeared to be going for ironic considering what happened next (which also, like most of the story before it, made no sense). The fight between Buford and Ernie was made harder to read because Craig used numerous small panels with the same bland background. Most of the backgrounds were bland and Ernie’s face was often horrible to look at throughout the issue (in a bad way). Though Ernie did begin to look more normal, regaining his skin tone. This was an interesting decision which seemed to go along with the fact that he was trying to be a hero but still went unexplained, multiplying the confusion.
Again, colorist Marcio Menyz’s decision to put the flashback in color was an odd one. The rest of his colors seem too bright and don’t fit the sickly twisted scenario Snider was trying to create. Instead the bright colors contrast poorly with this supposedly “horrific” realm.
You know it’s really bad when I can even critique the letterer. I know I usually don’t bring up the letterers of comics. It’s not that their job isn’t crucial to the comic, but usually I don’t have anything particularly good or bad to say about them. Here, however, there is an exception. On my digital copy, in particular the speech bubbles, Smiley’s speech bubbles are often very small and the dialogue is written in such a way that it’s hard to see. This is surprising considering I haven’t had a problem with Peteri’s lettering before (he’s previously worked on Witchblade, The Darkness and Artifacts). Here, it was distracting from the story.
Despite a smiley ending I can’t ignore the rest of this confusing mess. At the end of all this, I’ve realized Snider should have focused more on Ernie’s childhood on his journey to the deal with the devil, instead of his afterlife when his deal with the devil was almost complete. Snider should have had longer flashbacks, made less face-palming puns and made the story easier to understand. On that final note, I don’t think as a whole Evil Ernie was worth it. There were issues that still stand out in my mind and that could be enjoyed, but the overall result of these six issues has not been worth the possible damnation.
For the rest of my review of Evil Ernie’s “Origin of Evil” story arc, click on the links below: