Murder: All Edge, No Cut — comic review by Enjy
Sometimes review books come here from outside of furry fandom. ‘Murder’ is a comic about an animal-rights antihero, where “animals mysteriously begin linking telepathically” and there’s a “powerful new plant-based badass”. It’s now in issue #2. “‘Murder’ takes readers into the darkest corners of animal agriculture, as one species at a time they begin to hear each other’s thoughts. Only one human, The Butcher’s Butcher, is able to hear their thoughts. As the animals revolt and the world’s food supply comes into jeopardy, the animal-rights activist is forced to decide between his vegan ethics and a world dependent on meat.”
Thanks to Enjy for big effort as always, check out her past writing, and remember we’re fiercely independent enough to be critical sometimes, but with hugs! – Patch
Murder is a comic created by the folks at Collab Creations (https://collabcreations.bigcartel.com/) which is billed as an “animal rights antihero” work centering on a vigilante activist and his wife, who fight to inflict the same pain on food company CEOs and ranchers as they inflict on animals ready for slaughter. It is written by Matthew Loisel with art created by Emiliano Correa, who also did work on the excellent Hexes series by Blue Fox Comics. We at DPP were given the first two issues for review.
The first thing you will do, when you open page one of Murder #1, will be laying eyes upon someone gassing an entire building of innocent people because they are working at a meat plant. In the next few pages, you’ll see something that’s meant to be taken seriously, but is unintentionally hilarious to the point where you have to read it over a few times to make sure there isn’t a joke being set up. The protagonist who just committed a literal war crime brutally murders a CEO with a steer, and then we’re led to believe this is the man we should be rooting for.
Unfortunately, The Butcher’s Butcher (a name with all the intricacy of pissing on an alley wall) doesn’t have nearly the level of charisma or likability or justification needed to be a believable anti-hero, even from a suspension of disbelief. What this comic is, no matter which side of the vegan vs. non vegan debate you are on, is soulless, one-dimensional propaganda with a “hero” that is much the same. It is like some bizarro universe where a Jack Chick tract has been transformed into weird murder-porn that seems more like the author’s personal fantasy than anything that could make a statement about the industry of food processing. The road most anti-heroes follow of doing the “right thing” the “wrong way” is completely tossed to the wayside here in favor of putting a camera behind that kid you knew in high school who had a Death Note that he wrote in.
After reading the first issue, I realized that I could not tackle this comic from a serious point of view, so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and take a look at it through a Silver-Age pulp lens. If you can get past the awful paneling with some of the most strangely placed speech bubbles, it almost takes on a so-bad-it’s-good quality, where you just want to see what crazy thing happens next, after you watch a dog and a cat play chess and have that “yes, but MY virtue” talk that you’ve seen in that exact setting a hundred times.
However in the second issue, it completely loses even that small bit of charm. In that issue we are introduced to The Butcher’s Butcher’s lover, who styles herself as “The Melanated Melody”.
Yeah, I know.
You are introduced to her as a person when a girl politely asks if she can sit next to her and she responds with dismissiveness, then texts her friend that “another yt girl just sat next 2 me” and “another yt girl about 2 call 911”. Why? Because the girl asked her why she was at a lecture for heat-resistant cows if she had a ranch in Wyoming as her lie stated. Yet another one-dimensional, single-issue cardboard cutout much like her lover, the Melanated Melody adds nothing to the story except for a sort of inside joke between the type of people who would enjoy these comics, yet another example of the author’s strange parading of myriad murderous fantasies and disguising it as an activism piece.
Where Murder could have succeeded was spending more time with the story of animals who can link telepathically, giving us a unique look at the meat industry that could also open the eyes of many people who are numb to its crimes. It seems the writer is building up to a story about how animals may rise up against us all. It could have shared more intricate workings of the industry instead of snippets of shock shots that would have mouths watering over at PETA. However, it is wasted away as a flimsy backdrop for the writer to task his characters with killing people he does not like, with a disturbing disregard for common sense or even the basest of justification.
What I hope Matthew Loisel realizes about the separation of villain and anti-hero is that your anti-hero needs to have a simple ingredient: personality. The characters we’re supposed to be rooting for in this comic are soulless weirdos who seem to revel more in killing others than they do in serving their cause. If you take the vegan newsletter out of the back of this comic, it turns into an issue of psychopaths on a rampage because they think they can hear animals. There’s no nuance here and no way to ascertain their goals unless you know where the writer is coming from politically and mentally.
This comic’s only saving grace is that the art and backgrounds are beautifully done, and Emiliano Correa really does the best he can with what he’s given here, showing off some interesting costume designs and great tonal work to set moods in scenes. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to bring the comic anywhere near readable, relatable, or recommendable. I know what audience this comic is being written for, and I’m sure that they will enjoy being told what they like to hear. For the rest of the comic-reading world, who like to branch out and find stories layered underneath the bloodstains and hamfisted grandstanding, I suggest you give Murder a hard pass.
I give Murder a 3/10.
(Note from Patch:) I’m not immune to enjoying bloody horror, and this reminds me of a novel I read when it was a fresh debut with high cult notice: Cows, by Matthew Stokoe. It was a gory blast of B-movie splatterpunk and surrealism, with a put-upon loner who works in a slaughterhouse, starts to hear cows talk, and joins them.