The first two issues of Buzzard!, created by Andrea Wolf with art by Ezequiel Assis, are filled with no-holds-barred nonchalant violence sprinkled with a crude take on London young adulthood. In short, they’re bold, shameless, and hilarious. Buzzard isn’t just about shock-factor though – it mixes up the tempo with calmer scenes every bit as engaging as their action-packed counterparts, held together by a cast of unique and memorable characters.
For starters, Erik Lincoln (A.K.A. Buzzard) isn’t your traditional hero. It would require a serious stretch of the imagination to paint this sarcastic street-thug as a force for justice. I won’t try. In both actions and words, he chooses the crudest, rudest, and most embarrassing methods imaginable. Lacking in shame and, quite often, better judgment, Buzzard definitely comes across as a bit of a villain. Yet I somehow still found myself rooting for him. His running commentary is funny, his optimism is infectious, and his relationship with his sister is endearing.
Buzzard!‘s humor is definitely not for everyone. Personally, I found the blatant disrespect for rules, institutions, and tradition hilarious, but I would understand any reader made uncomfortable by some of the cruder jokes. Buzzard! is littered with references to drugs and violent crime. This might not be the comic you show your niece or nephew. Buzzard’s raunchy humor comes from a number of sources, including Erik’s sarcastic narration, his sister’s casual cynicism, and the sheer ridiculousness of so many of the situations that every character finds themselves in. Erik wearing only his underwear and a British flag while throwing money off a building? Now that’s just good stuff.
The plot of Buzzard! is as wild a ride as its protagonist. Erik Lincoln takes a job to beat up the manager of a rival football team, smokes a blunt with the hitman who ruins said job, then becomes the hitman’s friend and protégé. If this sounds insane to you, we’re barely halfway through issue one at this point. I haven’t even mentioned the Nazis yet. A lot happens. Don’t fall behind.
Buzzard’s first issue sets up Erik Lincoln’s character as “the Buzzard,” a hitman-for-hire who’s very familiar with the seedier side of London. We see the craziest of circumstances that take his journey from precocious street thug all the way to costumed, nazi-fighting vigilante. We also meet some of the notable characters of Buzzard! that get fleshed out in the second issue – primarily hitman Kal and Erik’s sister Mathilde, or Mattie. It’s through these characters that Wolf and Assis’ world really shines.
Buzzard! intersperses its hitman action with a lot of character-building downtime, and it’s all the better for it. As enjoyable as the high-octane moments are, it was the casual moments, like the conversations between Erik and Mattie, that I enjoyed the most on my second and third read-throughs. The casual banter oozes personality and humor. These are characters that I enjoy watching interact with one another. From the jaded, drug-addicted hitman Kal to the scientist “Eggheads” Alan and Carolyne that Erik sells weed to, Buzzard is littered with characters that have tons of potential for future narrative arcs. I look forward to seeing more of their interactions, as well as the uncovering the hidden conspiracies of modern-day London through Buzzard’s contract-killing missions.
Buzzard’s art is both functional and stylish. Assis’ manga-inspired work captures the facial expressions clearly and emotionally, subtly supporting the dialogue. His action sequences capture complex choreography through multi-panel moves, then deftly maneuver back to wide-shots of classic comic fighting mayhem. On a personal note, I love Erik’s signature scarf and its incorporation from his outfits to his Buzzard costume. Personal touches aren’t unique to Erik, though. All of Assis’ characters are expressive in their own unique ways.
If you’re a fan of anti-heroes and cynical optimism, or just need your fix of Cockney British culture, I would highly recommend checking out Buzzard.