Review by Ian Keogh
We only ever know the narrator of this story as Big Man, a title sarcastically applied by everyone to a guy that’s barely more than two feet in height. We meet him in 1979, just back from Vietnam, having heard every insulting joke, and completely out of patience and tolerance. He’s been trained to navigate the small tunnels from which the Viet Cong emerged to attack US troops stationed in Vietnam, and to kill anyone he came across in them. Returned home, he may look like prey, but he’s been brutalised and can handle himself.
Co-plotted by Eric Powell and Tim Wiesh, Big Man Plans is hardly comfort reading, not least because there’s the sense of the writers having their cake and eating it via their revenge story adding to the accumulated laughter about someone afflicted by restricted height. However, as a crime thriller, this is very well told. We’re shown why the Big Man has become the person he is, and why the time has come for him to settle scores with everyone who persecuted him before he went to Vietnam.
Powell’s art is explicit and gruesome. The Big Man has a lifetime of repressed rage, and a whole range of skills provided by the US Army, and there’s a relish about the way Powell draws body parts being removed or mutilated, although it all occurs to deserving cases. He’s such a good artist, though, that there’s a perverse beauty to these scenes, and it’s an explicit beauty when it comes to the art for the few pastoral sequences representing the happy moments in the Big Man’s life, some in a sepia wash.
Plot is hardly the priority, but it’s strung together well, a mysterious letter hanging over everything, the contents only revealed in the final chapter, although the general drift is easily picked up. Unlike The Goon, Powell’s best known series, any humour found here is of the bleakest kind, such as the t-shirts the Big Man wears, the violence is relentless and the suspense is minimal. It’s a guilty treat: totally unpleasant, but great horror.