Immortal Sergeant #1
On the eve of his unwelcome retirement, Jim Sargent (aka “Sarge”) a grizzled, old-school detective, catches a break on a murder case that’s haunted him for decades. Unfortunately, Sarge must drag his anxiety-riddled adult son, Michael, along for the ride or risk losing the lead forever. Can this dysfunctional duo overcome their own hang-ups, blindspots, and secrets to catch a killer?
Immortal Sergeant #1’s greatest villain is the dreaded gold watch. James Sargent may get called the “immortal sergeant”, but even were he truly immortal that could not save him from forced retirement. His young coworkers think it’s great–old biddies at the retirement home who want the “D”…and endless golf. Unfortunately the sergeant doesn’t share this view.
Immortal Sergeant #1 opens with a black 1970 Cadillac Coupe Deville RMMMMMMBLEing down the road, kicking up a little mud, and finally driving through a fence onto a golf course and stopping on the putting green. A lone man steps out, bandaid on his head, stain on his suit jacket, and retirement gift in his left hand. With his right hand he pulls out his gun. The man tosses the watch in the air and opens fire.
One week earlier…
Detective Sgt. James Sargent is on the verge of retirement, and he is not happy about it. As a police officer he has the privilege of making the greatest country in the world a little less screwed up–and all while wearing a target on his back. To him it’s the greatest adventure ever. Why would anyone want to give it up? In truth, though, Sargent spends most of the issue as a cantankerous older man yelling at kids, drinking at the bar, driving drunk, and complaining about dinner. But as his retirement looms, Sargent’s private thoughts linger on an unsolved case for which he appears to only have a girl’s shoe as evidence.
Immortal Sergeant #1 seems like a comic that’s not going to take itself too seriously (this despite a phenomenal metaphor of a character who didn’t want to retire shooting at his gold watch and missing). When we first encounter James Sargent he speeds his car onto a golf course, throws a watch in the air, and shoots his gun up toward it. His suit is stained and there’s a bandaid on his head. It’s fair to say this guy comes across a little ridiculous from the start. And that feeling continues until five pages into the one week flashback (just over halfway through the issue).
Everything changes when Sargent pulls out the shoe in the evidence bag. This is followed by a single panel of a girl’s ankle and foot laying in grass with the shoe off to the side. Sargent isn’t suddenly a less outwardly ridiculous character because of this. But it, and a couple others later in the issue, tells us there is something at work in his mind. This is important because James Sargent now has some dimension that will serve the character well whether Casey takes Immortal Sergeant deeper into comedy or balances it with drama.
For all this talk of Sargent, though, the thing that really gives Immortal Sergeant #1 its identity is Niimura’s art. The style is very minimalist and somewhat rough, and it differs considerably from I Kill Giants which is likely Niimura’s most well known work among Americans. In a general sense there is a borderline comic strip quality to the art. It gives Sargent a broad attitude–not comedic necessarily, but in the sense that he doesn’t do anything small.
Niimura ably handles a variety of layouts as well, some of which are quite chaotic and many imply movement coming on or going off the page. Many panels lack borders on one side or the other (some lack borders on both sides, though these come across more as a traditional spread across the width of the page). The ones that are open only on one side give the illusion that action is happening off the page and its appearance on the page is when it appears in the reader’s frame of reference. This is especially true when Sargent’s car is racing this way or that. The car will be racing from left to right, with the left side of the panel separated from the edge of the page by a border while the right side is open to the edge. With the car driving to the right, the front of it already gone from the panel, there is an added illusion of speed. It’s a simple device that leaves a significant impact on how the book reads.
James Sargent makes a big impact as a main character. He walks a fine line between ridiculous and serious (leaning more to the former than the latter), and will be quite memorable. With Immortal Sergeant #1 Casey and Niimura have created a fun, energetic, and highly original new series that you won’t want to miss.
Immortal Sergeant #1: The Dreaded Gold Watch
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10