Doug Wood & Matt Battaglia’s Leap M one-shot has already come through a pretty torrid time after having to be wrestled back to it’s creators from a publisher but they dusted themselves down and the book became a reality thanks to a run on Kickstarter.
It tells the story of war veteran Wilbur as he finds himself in the uncomfortable situation of discovering a body in his bathroom that kickstarts a fairly rapid downfall into the prison system. That prison system has a very different approach to dealing with the jail time that’s passed out to the guilty though, as a futuristic way of aging the convicted is inserted into their brain to simulate their sentence.
That sci-fi element comes and goes quickly as the core story of revenge begins to unfold and we see Wilbur’s tour of Afghanistan go from smooth to shitstorm in the time it takes for an IED to detonate. The casualties of his squadron stretch beyond those killed in war as the survivors remain tortured by choices made on the battlefield and the fallout from those decisions sees their lives plagued with guilt, PTSD and everything else in between. This shared pain has haunted them all their lives and proved to be a connection that turns out to the key to how Wilbur’s life ended up where it did. That could all have been fobbed off as bad luck but the past comes back to act out it’s own revenge against them in a way none of them expected.
I wasn’t quite sure where Doug’s story was going to go after the opening sequence & the sci-fi theme but once the links between the past & present began to make themselves visible it did seem to fit together. The fractured friendships between the veterans felt like a tangible source of trust & distrust in equal measure and helped push things on with the overall thread of revenge making this intriguing right through. The art from Matt has a grainy style to it that suits the blend of elements here too and while there were a couple of sequences that felt a bit crammed because of the number of panels, the colour work helped keep this from feeling too much of an issue. Justin “Lettersquids” does a great job on keeping the lettering tight as there is a lot of dialogue & narration to handle as things unfold.
The story behind this one-shot may be part of my reason for backing the book at the time but the creative team have done a damn fine job at building a revenge story with a real sense of weight to it. The characters are damaged in their own ways but the shared experience of war gives them something to cling to as a sliver of hope and there are times when you think things will work out only for things to definitely NOT work out. Perhaps not to everyone’s liking with some of the elements put together or the visuals but it’s bittersweet story and approach to the mental issues following war gave this more than enough for me to enjoy reading it and wish it was longer.
You can keep up to date with what else the creators are working on through the links below: