The Pro Review
Let me start off by saying that I don’t consider myself to be a comic book critic. I am, above all else, a comic book fan. Critics take a great deal of pleasure in tearing a piece of artwork to shreds. After reading a bad graphic novel a sinister Grinch like sneer doesn’t appear on my face. I don’t rub my hands together and laugh maniacally as I type out a negative review on my laptop. When I read a bad comic, like your parents when they see your report card, I’m really just left with a general feeling of disappointment. But because I’m such a positive person and I don’t enjoy dwelling on the bad so this review is going to be short. And its going to be dirty. I think humor is the most difficult thing to successfully pull off in a comic book. Shaping humor to fit the sequential art format can be a major challenge for both the artist and the writer. So much of a joke depends on delivery and when every line of dialog is said by the little monotone voice in your head, the punchlines aren’t nearly as effective. Despite this rather large obstacle I’ve seen humor done in comic books and I’ve seen it done well. But I’m not here to talk about those comics, I’m here to talk about The Pro.
Surprisingly this one-shot story has a pretty large cult following. I come across posters of the main character smoking a cigarette and picking out a wedgie at every comic convention I attend. And what comic book reading male hasn’t drooled over the photos of Ruby Rocket cosplaying as The Pro a few years back? To make matters worse, there was even talks about adapting The Pro into a feature film starring Sarah Silverman. This comic book is bad but why is it so popular? The only logical answer I can come up with is the fact that book’s creators are well respected names in the comic community. The whole project is written by Garth Ennis who’s dark and twisted Preacher series made him a god amongst geeks. Ennis’s humor is very hit and miss with me. At times he’s able to craft an intelligent satire that not only makes his reader laugh but more importantly makes them think. But here, Ennis relies too heavily on gross out humor and shock value to grab the attention of readers. The Pro is Ennis’ attempt to show comic readers that superhero stories are juvenile and this art medium is capable of so much more. The problem is that he completely deflates his own argument with a series of jokes that a fourteen year old boy can write.
The art, provided by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, is the only thing that makes this book memorable. Amanda Connor’s colorful panels and the distinct body language she gives her characters are so entertaining that it almost makes up for the rest of the comics shortcomings. Almost is the key word there. The Pro is worth a read if you happen to share the exact same sense of humor as Garth Ennis – but for anyone who doesn’t fall in that category, I recommend you skip this book and maybe re-watch an episode of The Venture Brothers where you can see an example of an intelligent parody.
Score: 4 out of 10