The Surgeon #1 Review

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Posted November 7, 2017 by Chad Waller in Comic Books

Written By: John Pence

Art By: Zachary Dolan & Eve Orozco

Published By: Unlikely Heroes Studios

Before we begin, let’s get a bit of housekeeping out of the way. The Surgeon is an indie comic currently in the middle of an already-successful Kickstarter campaign to fund its first printing. You can find that here. The review copy I was sent is not the final, proof-read version, so the quality of the book is subject to change between now and release. I don’t foresee there being many changes, if any. Still, housekeeping is housekeeping.

Now with that out of the way:

The Surgeon is a post-apocalyptic story following Jenny Hanover as our resident doctor with a sword and gun. It’s a promising start to be sure; we don’t get many doctors in these kinds of stories. It’s also a promising character study, what with Jenny being at odds with her Hippocratic Oath. She kills more than she saves. I like all of that.

The problem is, The Surgeon doesn’t deliver on its promises. Yes Jenny is a doctor, but we get more panels of her killing badguys, drinking, showing town guards how badass she is, and talking weapon crafting with the local smith. Her doctoring is few and far between, more shown than told. The most genuine thing we get is her wishing the world wasn’t a broken wasteland.

I’m struggling to find a character flaw with Jenny. She’s basically loved by everyone on principle, and those that don’t love her she either beats up or shows up. She’s covered in scars, and she curses like a sailor, but there’s nothing vulnerable or dangerous in any of it. It’s just crass.

Her big internal struggle is…well, as of this issue, nowhere to be found. She shows little remorse in taking lives, and her fight-or-flight response is stuck in the former. We get a drunken ramble about how she’d rather save than take, but sobriety shows a pretty strong willingness to take.

It turns an interesting promise into something boring.

Jenny Hanover feels like a bunch of heroes shoved together with none of the flaws. She’s stoic when called for, better at fighting than most people around her, a doctor in a world without doctors, and willing to let loose and party with the rest of the guys.

She’s engineered to be liked, and I don’t like her.

That being said, The Surgeon isn’t without its cool elements. The book takes place 15 year after the apocalypse, and given how everyone talks, that apocalypse is around now. It’s less internet speech and more internet concepts that show up, and while I didn’t like them at first, I found them kind of fun on my second reading. There’s a logic to them being there.

The opening page is a tower covered in notes and flags, and Jenny calls it Craigslist. It’s silly on first pass but honestly thought-provoking on reflection. The nomenclature of 2017 isn’t going to vanish with the apocalypse.

These details wander throughout the book, some in the background, some offhand comments. It’s a light touch to the world building that works, and one I wish I saw in more debut issues. Never once are we treated to an exposition dump on why the world is the way it is.

Because it’s better as a mystery.

The artwork too is pretty solid, the opening pages being especially well-crafted. There are a few poses and facial expressions that remind me of webcomics—in a bad way—but on the whole, all of the 27 pages are pretty with some great designs and coloring. Little details about the world and its people are apt to crop up here and there, like the smith’s “Kiss the Cook” apron. There’s flavor to be found.

The Surgeon is one of those books where its flaws and weaknesses wash each other out. The main character is boring, and some of the writing is overly crass for no real reason, but the artwork is nice and the world building is handled pretty well. If you’ve had your fill of the apocalypse, it’s not worth your time; if you want more stories where the world has ended and people are struggling to survive, then flip a coin.

The Surgeon #1



The Surgeon #1

5

Final Score

5/10

Pros

  • Some great artwork to be found
  • The world building is well-crafted and fun
  • The foundation for a good story is here

Cons

  • Jenny is boring, treading on Mary Sue territory
  • The writing gets overly crass at points



About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company working on their first game, The Regret of Vitrerran. He also likes to write, preferring fiction and poetry, but also the occasional book review or video game essay. You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.