It’s been quite a ride so far these past couple of weeks, but it’s not over yet —
In Elijah Brubaker’s Reich #9 , the FDA makes its move against our increasingly-ostracized (partly by choice, partly due to circumstance) protagonist, who’s also getting noticeably more prickly in his dotage (not that he was ever exactly pleasant company), and as it happens it turns out that it was someone very close to him who ended up selling him out to the feds. These intrigues pass by unbeknownst to Willy, though, as he’s far too busy “discovering” the negative counterpart to Orgone, which he calls D.O.R., an acronym for Dark Orgone Energy. The cover for this issue is one of my favorites, the detail is just amazing and I love the lime green — a bold color choice that really draws in the eye. The interior art is solid as ever, and tips its hand more than ever to Jeff Nicholson’s influence — which is by no means a bad thing. One item worthy of note : this issue carries a $5.00 price tag, as opposed to the usual $4.00, but fear not — it goes away as quickly as it showed up, and was probably just due to temporarily tight finances at the offices of publisher Sparkplug Comic Books. In any case, it’s still more than worth it.
We’re back to a watercolor cover for Reich #10, and if you’re of a mind that Brubaker’s mastery of this technique just gets stronger and stronger as he goes along, you’re exactly right. Personal drama takes center stage in this chapter as Reich’s second marriage falls apart — or, more likely, is irreparably shattered thanks to his own actions and increasing paranoia. He’s got bigger things on his mind than domestic strife, though, as this is the point at which he enlists his “Cloudbuster” devices into service in — the war against UFOs? You’ve gotta read it to believe it, and even then you still probably wont. Brubaker’s depictions of flying saucer battles are worth the price of admission alone, and that price is once again (and would remain) just four bucks.
If you put a gun to my head and forced me to choose a favorite cover for this series, it would probably be the one for Reich #11. I mean, just look at that stark imagery that positively reeks of isolation, and the cross-hatching alone must have taken fucking hours. Inside, Wilhelm finds what passes for “love” (or, at the very least, marriage — this time complete with a contract) one more time, makes some absolutely crucial mistakes in his handling of his legal case, shares a genuinely tender moment with his son, and unleashes his violent temper upon now-ex-wife Ilse, in a scene masterfully illustrated partly with full-figure drawings, partly with shadow forms. It’s just plain stunning, as is this installment in general — thick with foreboding and doom, the end is truly nigh.
That end arrives with Reich #12, and I guess I’ll keep details of this one scant just in case some readers aren’t aware of the circumstances surrounding the groundbreaking-but-possibly-bonkers scientist’s ignominious final days. A decidedly understated and quite apropos cover kicks things off, and Brubaker goes back to the traditional six-panel grid for his big finale, which gives the proceedings the feel of a work circling back around to its beginnings even as the curtain drops. You can’t help but feel that, unlikable as he was, Reich deserved better than he ended up getting, and the matter-of-fact, unsentimental manner in which his shuffling off this mortal coil is depicted is, once again, reminiscent of Chester Brown’s last page of Louis Riel — minus the rope. A stark, powerful, frank conclusion to one of the finest works of biography ever undertaken in the comics medium.
And so all good things must come to an end, and this series was a very good thing, indeed. Next week I think we’ll turn our attention back to current offerings hitting the comic shop racks, since I’m at least morbidly curious to check out The Sandman Universe #1, and Howard Chaykin’s got a new series making its debut, so the tentative plan is to check both of those out, plus whatever else (if anything) catches my interest. In the meantime, we’ll wrap up this Reich retrospective by providing the link to order all twelve issues (hopefully you’re convinced at this point that they’re an absolutely essential purchase) one more time :https://wowcool.com/product-category/comics/indie/elijah-brubaker/