Review by Ian Keogh
Body Bags is a very good action-thriller satire concerning a masked bounty hunter calling himself Clownface, due to his distinctive smiley-face mask. It’s ultra-violent, and some may consider it oversteps a line when a pregnant woman is deliberately stabbed when information’s not forthcoming.
From that point Jason Pearson ramps up the action of a war between rival bounty hunters, known as body baggers, hence the title. Clownface’s life is complicated by his partner suffering from a brain disease for which he can’t afford an operation and his pneumatically built fourteen year old daughter Panda arriving and announcing she wants to train as a body bagger. She’s very capable despite her youth, and ferociously fuelled by anger management issues. There’s also the Scorcese organised crime family to consider, their youngest suffering facial injuries after attempting to grope Panda on a plane.
The mixture of characters is volatile and strangely sympathetic, despite a propensity for extreme violence. Pearson throws in some other heavyweight opponents, an assassination contract and a viable ethical dilemma that sets the fuse brilliantly. From that point he escalates matters still further, constantly throwing in complications in a never predictable plot. Not that there’s a lot of plot, you understand, but what there is isn’t predictable, and it’s just enough to sustain the action scenes and big guns.
Pearson’s art is fantastic. All his prominent cast are hyper-exaggerated in some form, with Clownface a bulky giant who can barely be squeezed into panels, and Panda having the same problem. There’s a constant kinetic flow to the action, and the pages are scattered with visual and verbal asides.
There’s a sustained popularity for Body Bags, proved by Image reissuing Father’s Day in 2009, twelve years after its original Dark Horse publication, but this isn’t for everybody. For those who want to be offended about content there are certainly many opportunities, and some elements are difficult to defend even within what’s intended as satirical. There have been sporadic, shorter, follow-ups over the years, and these are collected as Theories of Violence.