The Webcomic Overlook #188: Jack (the Drunk Duck one)
While checking my email during my break from reviewing webcomics, I recieved a profound feeling of deja vu. I got a request from an avid reader of this site to review a webcomic that, to put it politely, looked rather sketchy. It featured a world with humans and furries who would often mutilate each other. There were long scenes of characters having their skin and limbs peeled off and of gratuitous murder porn. The hero, if you could call him that, was often in contact with an anthropomorphic grim reaper character who lived in hell.
Yes, this reader asked me to review Jack.
But not THAT Jack.
This is the other Jack, written and illustrated by Norweigan webcomic creator Catya Alvheim. The comic is a little hard to find on Google, given the prominence of David Hopkins’ Jack, but if you type “drunk duck jack” in the search field it pops right up like a mischievous imp trying to educate you on the importance of springs. I felt a little guilty doing this, since Jack, and the art of Jack, specifically, strikes me as the sort of terrible comic that you’d make up in high school. So, yeah, I did my due diligence and, not for the first time, looked up the author’s age, hoping against all hopes that perhaps this was just a screwed up teen who didn’t know any better.
To my dismay… yes, this author is probably old enough to take it. Hopefully, if she comes across this review, she’ll take things in stride. (Heaven knows there are fairly cruel reviews of this Jack populating the internet.) It is also true that Jack was ,at some point, the product of some screwed up teen. But the author is no longer a teen, it’s still updating, and to my further dismay, it has apparently just celebrated its six year anniversary. That’s … that’s a whole lot of Jack.
(Incidentally, many links in this review are going to NSFW due to mutilation, nudity, cannibalism, excessive gore, and juggalos. Viewer discretion is advised.)
Let’s address the question that is probably on your lips at this very moment: is this webcomic as bad as the other, more famous Jack (which I reviewed here)? That’s a resounding “No.” For one, I was, in a very perverse way, more entertained reading this Jack. Now, I should note that Ms. Alvheim gets quite upset when asked if this Jack has anything to do with Hopkins’ Jack.
I’m a big fan of his comic,been reading it since 2002,but my comic is in no way related or even fucking LOOK like it.It’s named Jack simply because I like that name and it fits my character.They don’t even look alike,have the same powers,background or even do the same.
And really, can you blame her? Would you want to be compared to Hopkin’s Jack? I’m sure she’s pretty tired of it. Probably gets asked the same question at least five times a day. However, it’s not like the inquiries are unfounded. Jack and Jack DO look similar. If I showed you a few panels of this one, I guarantee that you’d probably take one or two minutes trying to figure out which Jack it belonged to. Honestly, if you knew that the other Jack existed, you could’ve saved yourself a lot of grief by releasing your webcomic under a different name. If I released a webcomic named Cathy about a furry who wears a hockey mask dealing with romance and weight gain issues, then it’s my own fault when I get all those “Ack! Is this webcomic about chocolate chocolate chocolate?” remarks.
And yet, for all the blood and severed limbs and pages and pages of crying (oh Lord is there so much crying), there’s something charmingly innocent about this Jack. Hopkins’ Jack hammers you over the head with how important it is (which was no more apparent than when he shoe-horned the World Trade Center into his comic). This Jack is more introspective an personal, like that dark poetry you thought was so deep and original in your adolescence.
Heck, I can imagine a younger El Santo putting something like this after a brief obsession with Live back in the 90′s. Who hasn’t? Hell, I once went to college dressed all in black wearing a chain necklace around my neck with a white flower and a butter knife on it. (“Good thing I grew out of that,” says the guy who posts videos of himself wearing a luchador mask.) I probably would’ve created the characters in the margins of my notebook, then scrawled a few pages while eating pizza rolls alone in my dorm room. Of course, if I ever came across that theoretical comic this day, I’d throw it in a steel barrel, douse it with propane, and burn any evidence that this comic ever existed.
That said, none of this means that this Jack is any good.
The likes of Live and Evanescence and My Chemical Romance are not hardcore enough for Ms. Alvheim. After reading the first 50 pages or so, I had it all set in my mind to write down “this is a webcomic as written when Juggalos” thinking I was all clever. And then this and this show up. Sometimes I hate it when I’m right. So it’s time to plow into this thing with The Great Milenko playing on my iPad and rocking a 2 Liter of Faygo Redpop.
The reason I can’t really hate Jack is that it is unintentionally hilarious. It’s supposed to be deep and gothic, but fails utterly at this. Our opening scene is of our hero (?) tied up against a post and suffering the blows while preaching against violence. Which is kind of odd, given that later he’s going to brutally murder and eat — yes, eat — his tormentor … who, by the way, looks less of a bigoted grandpa and more like a hip blues musician. His only friend is a sympathetic young girl who — surprise! — is dressed up in Hot Topic fashions circa 1997.
Jack always wears a hockey mask that he has — no joke — screwed onto his face. His real face is unseen. We’re told, though, that it’s lacerated with burn scars from when his childhood home went up his flames.
So, outside the cannibal thing, Jack is really former WWE heavyweight champion Kane.
So why does Jack look like Jason from the Friday the 13th movies? I imagine that the mask is supposed to be frightening or ominous. Perhaps it is meant to recall a skeletal visage. However, it’s hard to take Jack seriously when he looks like a muppet half the time. The design’s been streamlined in later comics. Jack now has a mohawk, and the mask is more gaunt and features a more prominent nose .. but man does he still look goofy.
For some reason, but Jack also lives in world populated by both humans and furries.
There’s little in the first story arc (other than an anthropomorphic grim reaper type creature) to indicate that this is the case. Humans are portrayed, by an large, to be bigoted assholes. Whenever they see Jack and his bizarre appearance, they instinctively want to do harm to him. This could be a nice moral about how it isn’t right to judge a person by their looks … but, as we’ll soon find out, most of these bigots were actually right about Jack.
I have a feeling “prejudice is justified” was not one of the main take-aways the reader was supposed to arrive at.
So, is there any reason that this is a furry comic? Other then, after the first story arc, Ms. Alvheim gook hooked on the genre? Because the furry aspect of the comic is the one that feels the most out place. Here’s some dialogue, in fact, that comes off as strikingly awkward.
“Someone helped me. A blond and brown fur dog named Ronnie.” I’m almost certain that Jack’s description would be “a brunette and pink skinned human named Jack.”
“The puppies. The dead puppies! If it was humans, it would be dead babies.” Clearly, this is a universe where there are dog cops, but when you talk about puppies you have to remind people that we’re not talking about the cuddle little things in pet calendars.
That last scene, by the way, is part of a plot where a fellow prisoner recounts the harrowing tale of how a mad scientist forced two furries to make puppies (if you are human, it would be babies) for him to use in his experiments. Are we really supposed to be taking Jack’s trials and tribulations seriously when he also lives in a world filled with mad science?
Jack commits all of the most sordid cliches when it comes to writing amateur fiction. ALL OF THEM. It even includes one of the most reliable stand-bys for writers trying to convey a sense of, “People, things just got serious.”
Yes, there is a rape scene.
Jack goes to the bar, and refuses the proposition of a hooker. Well, that turns to be a wrong move, because the lady is part of a duo who happen to be rapists who also happen to be serial killers. Jack is kidnapped, stripped naked, and in a scene that’s way too goofy to be taken seriously, is raped. Ms. Alvheim depicts the killers as so casually sadistic that it’s no longer frightening and almost crosses the line into parody. They casually discuss how they’re going to rape Jack and and chop him up with a chainsaw later (!) like they’re talking about what movie they’re going to watch tonight.
Oh, these two!
It’s bizarre to the point of being surreal. I’m probably going to go to hell for this, but the rape scene is such a botched attempt at being horrifying that I actually laughed. It’s so weird that I almost missed the piece de resistance: on the very next page, we get a saucy pin-up photo of a scantily clad Jack in a racy pose where he’s being forcibly turned into a furry. I… guess that’s supposed to be edgy juxtapositioning or something?
Now that the strawman situation has been set-up, Jack’s vengeance is justified (technically). He breaks free of his bonds, and then he straight up brutally chainsaw murders the couple. He goes to jail, where he has to serve out his … five year sentence?!?!?! For chainsaw murder? It says that he pleads self-defense, and that probably keeps you out of the electric chair… but five years for hacking people up with a chainsaw? I’m not sure the self-defense argument could even stick. The story established that someone freed him, and he probably could have escaped scott-free a scene before. In fact, he tells that to the police himself!
Methinks the justice system is totally geared against humans and toward furries here. I bet if the serial killers were dogs (if you are human, it would be people), I’m guessing Jack would at least get twenty years. It’s probably why people instinctively want to beat the crap out of this hockey-masked loser every time they see him. They just know he’s the patsy of the furry-dominated hegemony.
Jack works in close quarters with
The Violator an alligator named Chains, who seems hellbent into be turning him into Spawn Spawn. So what duties does being Chains’ personal errand boy entail? Its seems one of Jack’s first duties is to kill a Satanist furry that he’d just met in prison. God, the revolving door that prison must have. I guess that by forcing Jack to murder, he becomes more and more Chains’ servant. You start off with blues man grandpas, graduate to Satanist furries, and for your post-doc perhaps the souls of innocents.
Later, Jack kills two rednecks who were looking for any excuse to lynch anyone. One, judging from his hat, seems to hail from Scotland (certainly that can’t be a Confederate flag, because, man, would that ever be a sign that Ms. Alvheim gets all her plots from 1970′s exploitation movies). But, oh snap, looks like they messed with the wrong undead guy in a hockey mask! Jack mutilates the bodies, poses them in obscene positions, and just gives in to his whole martyr complex.
At the risk of incurring Ms. Alvheim’s wrath for making the unpardonable sin of talking about that other Jack, I’d venture to say that David Hopkins’ Jack is a far more likable guy than Alvheim’s Jack. In fact, I really had nothing against big green bunny Jack. Here’s a clip of what I said in my review of Hopkins’ Jack:
I think the Jack character himself isn’t that bad…. Imagine this theoretical scenario: a murderous and particularly hirsute and lupine serial killer who ripped off his crotchfruits has a gun shoved up my ass, and he demands an answer as to which character I’d rather spend all of eternity with: Jack from Jack or Fisk from Better Days. For me, it’s Jack every time. Hopkins actually succeeded in making him an interesting character, with a backstory worth exploring. He is, at last, not an infallible John Galt. Jack deserves better than the comic he was doomed to appear in.
On the other hand, Hockey Mask Jack is a totally unlikable crybaby. The writer tries her damnedest to game the story so that Jack is supposed to look like a hero when the killings start. It never, ever works. Jack comes off as the sort of lying, self-victimizing sad sack who changes the details of the story just to justify his actions. I mean, just look at that first story. All that talk about the wrongness of cold blooded murder (which actually stays the hand of his tormentor), only to be a total hypocrite and kill the guy anyway. And then we’re treated with a fantasy straight out of the serial killer’s handbook: the granddaughter of the deceased is so happy about Jack’s murdering ways that she sits on his lap and give him a big hug. Awwww.
Cripes, every time something terrible happened to Hockey Mask Jack that caused him to cry those big bitter tears, I was tempted to say, “Good. You deserved it, you big baby.”
Good Lord, in a battle between bunny Jack and hockey mask Jack, I’d be rooting for bunny Jack all the way. And, man, that’s the sort of admission that no webcomic should ever force me to say.
I have to say, though, that Jack is a fascinating view into how a juggalo’s mind works. The belief that everyone in the world is out to rape, torture, or chainsaw you to death, and the only way to save yourself is to become a bigger monster.
I look forward to future installments, though, when Jack contemplates the miracles of magnets.
Rating: 1 star (out of 5)