When I picked up the first issue of Evil Ernie from Dynamite Entertainment I have to admit I was very nervous when I finally got home and started reading it.
Now, I really enjoyed the first issue but what about the second? Does Jesse Blaze Snider have what it takes to fully reinvent an iconic character like Evil Ernie for a new generation AND keep him interesting?
Short answer… Yes. There is enough of the Chaos! version of Evil here to let you know who he is, but Snider is doing a fantastic job in making him a fresh new character as well. It isn’t something that’s really easy to do, and normally something I hate, but this is one of the rare times when it’s done perfectly. This also means there is a lot more room to maneuver and with each new issue I’m more and more eager to see where Snider is taking us.
Beginning with this issue we start to learn more of the nature of Evil Ernie. First thing of interest is that he doesn’t actually see himself as being ‘Evil.’ True, he’s killed over 600 people, and counting, but he sees them as monsters and knows their sins. To him, his killing serves a greater good. But is there more to that? I mean, when you make a deal with Hell, you’re bound to get burned, right? And what is this deal he made? What does he hope to get out of it?
Also explained in this issue is the fact that Evil’s powers are limited, which is something new from the previous incarnation of the character. Making him vulnerable will also add more layers to the character. While he was more than just a mindless killing machine before, he has to be more cautious about the use of his powers now. Before the only problem he seemed to have was how to kill as many people as possible (remember his original driving force was megadeath, killing every living being on earth so Lady Death could return), but now he has to balance his killing with his powers with killing without them.
Another thing I’ve come to really enjoy is the new version of Smiley, The Psychotic Button. He isn’t just a button with an attitude anymore, he seems to be made out of flesh. In some panels he’s shown with stretches on him, like he’s pulling flesh to move himself around. It’s really cool. He’s also more than just an extension of Evil’s subconscious. He’s his own entity, claiming to be the only friend Evil ever had but he seems to know a lot more about Evil than he’s letting on. It’s been suggested that he’s been playing Evil since day one, manipulating him but to what ends?
Snider has done a great job so far, in my opinion, and this new Evil Ernie certainly has a lot of potential. It’s by no means an attempt to replace or erase what was done in the 90’s, no, it’s more of a homage to the classic stories, a tip of the hat to the creators who worked on Evil during the Chaos! Comics days while molding the character into something contemporary audiences can enjoy. I was concerned that it would be difficult to read this new series considering I own every Evil Ernie comic published by Chaos! and know his story very well but it wasn’t at all.
One thing that is taking a little more getting used to is how Evil looks. Jason Craig is also making Evil his own character by using bits of his original look while tweaking other parts of his look. For instance: Evil is still missing his stomach area and it, at times, has the green energy, formerly called the Energy Arcane, coming out, but his trademark grin has been modified. It’s no longer a face wide grin but rather a normal looking grin made from the fact his cheeks were blown out. He also still has the flesh on his forearms. It’s taking some getting used to but I am liking it.
Only two issues in and this series is already a worthy successor to the Chaos! Comics series. I’m sure there are Chaos! fans who are more die-hard than I am that are totally hating this, and I understand that, but I do hope they will at least give it a chance. This isn’t the first time we’ve had a new version of Evil Ernie, by my count this is the third version of him, and it really does deserve a chance. Snider and Craig have proven they know who Evil was and respect that. They are also taking Evil to places he’s never been before. So, to those who are going to hate on this without reading it I have this to say:
Evil Ernie was originally created by Lady Death. It’s obvious that can no longer be the case. Are you willing to be a true fan of Evil and see “What If… Evil Ernie was created in a world without Lady Death?” I’m sure if you did you would be pleasantly surprised at how much fun this book is becoming! Also, if you support this book, who knows? We might finally get to see more of our Chaos! Cast: Chastity, Bedlam, Purgatori, Jade, The Omen, and who knows what else! Sometimes the only way to move forward is to reboot everything. Not the way Marvel or DC does it, they do it for sales. Evil Ernie is being rebooted for stories and substance!