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After reeling from the events of the blasphemously bad last issue, I have to commend the creative team for drawing me back in with this issue. While it's still not perfect, this issue has almost returned to the glory the first couple of issues had. Almost.
After coming back from the dead, Ernie must confront his father in a prison. But this time he's not alone. Unfortunately, he might not have much time left as the president debates with his colleagues on whether or not he should drop a nuke on the prison.
Unlike the last issue, this time Jesse Blaze Snider's story doesn't feel like it's dragging on and on. It went by a lot quicker. But the pacing of this series as a whole is hugely flawed. Ernie's origin story spans six issues, which has felt a lot longer than I thought it would. Four issues would've sufficed. Also, we're still only getting one page each issue covering Ernie's childhood. These flashbacks are hit or miss and in this issue I like how we see Ernie lose hope in God. These sporadic flashbacks are usually hellish looks into Ernie's psyche. The placement of this mini-montage was great considering Ernie's psychologist also has a monologue where she basically calls out God. This monologue unfortunately wasn't a montage and was a huge cluster of dialogue that, despite lasting only one page, felt like the longest moment in the entire issue.
The mentions of God and Lucifer may turn off a lot of people. If you consider Death Note sacrilegious, this will be burning in your fireplace. But, if you take a more relaxed approach, you'll realize this issue taps into an important question real people do ask: why do such terrible things like rape and murder happen if we have a loving God? My only question is: why does the psychologist see fit to blame God when Ernie, despite his "good" intentions, has killed people? I guess he gets brownie points for remorse.
The only real insult to God is the angel he supposedly sent to earth to set Ernie on the right path (a.k.a. Uriel the useless). When Uriel originally came on the panel in Evil Ernie #3, I was excited to see what he would bring to the table. Instead of bringing anything, Uriel just keeps getting himself killed, proving to be a weak angel.
Another disappointment is apparently Snider decided to ignore me when I mentioned last time how I was starting to think there were too many powers in this series because he's decided to add another one. Now, Ernie can raise the dead – or, as he says in his overly satirized Sixth Sense rip-off line – "I feel dead people!" ...I might have laughed but I shook my head in shame afterwards.
What wasn't disappointing was the suspense which in this issue is amped up by two things: Ernie's father and the nuke.
That "armament" I mentioned that Ernie's father Buford got last issue changes not only his power set (even more powers, yay) but his design. Artist Jason Craig gives Buford a beautiful demonic transforming design. Even better, unlike going through a standard transformation panel, Buford slowly changes over the period of a couple pages. However, while this transition was nice, Buford's mid-way transformation that readers see first in this issue on a two-page spread was so good (though it was hindered by distastefully showing off the psychologist's thong) that when Buford fully transforms, his design is a step-down.
The bits with the President debating whether or not to send a nuke into the prison also felt like a realistic occurrence with him worrying about the safety of the people (though it went a little too far when he started worrying about the safety of the plants). What's surprising is, Jason Craig hides the president in shadows. It's obviously supposed to be Obama and I don't understand why they don't just show him considering Obama has done more in comics than in his presidential career. And don't tell me he would have objected to being in this comic. He was assassinated in Bomb Queen. Plus, I love how noble he is portrayed to be – and I seriously do love seeing him in comics.
Craig's artwork and Marcio Menyz's colors are the best they've ever been in this series. Like father like son, Ernie looks best when he is halfway between a desecrated corpse and his "normal" self. But even when he's fully formed, Craig draws a very disturbing smile on Ernie's face that would make the Joker cringe. Also, while the backgrounds are still usually a bland color rather than an actual backdrop, Craig seems to have learned to lay-off his terrible style of putting so many panels on the page that it becomes a chaotic mess. Menyz's colors are great. Even little things like character's flesh tones have improve and look almost like real warm flesh.
There is a clear crowd this comic will attract. If you aren't sensitive about mentions of God and Lucifer, enjoy blood and don't mind seeing a shadowy Obama, you may find this issue interesting. However, it's hard to fully understand everything that's going on if you haven't read the rest of the arc and with the first two issues winning me over and the next two slowly declining, I have more hope that this upturn will continue into the final issue. If it doesn't... don't waste your time with this renewal of hope.