Lockjaw #1 Review

by Charles Martin on February 28, 2018

Lockjaw #1 Review
Writer: Daniel Kibblesmith
Penciler: Carlos Villa
Inks: Roberto Poggi
Colourist: Chris O'Halloran
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Lockjaw! We all love him! But we've seen that he doesn't have the power to carry an under-funded ensemble TV show all by himself. Howsabout a solo comic? Could he carry one of those?

The answer is a resounding (but not quite unconditional) yes. The condition? Whether he needs it or not, he's getting a little help from Dennis "D-Man" Dunphy.

Lockjaw is off on a quest to find his family - I think. That would be this issue's only real weakness. Lockjaw's story is taking its sweet time to unfold, and the full scope remains unclear. It's not just the presence of D-Man that slows things down; Lockjaw spends almost a third of the book saying goodbye to the Inhumans in a way that's super cute but not very plot-illuminating. 

In the same way that Black Bolt needed a talkative pal to get his solo rolling, Lockjaw's path crosses D-Man's so that he has a power-of-speech buddy going forward. Carlos Villa's expressive pencils do a remarkably good job of communicating for Lockjaw all by themselves, though, and I almost wish the creators had taken a swing at a no-talking Lockjaw comic.

But then, that would be doing D-Man a disservice, and the world's been doing that all on its own lately. He's suffered a hard breakup, he has no powers, he's getting fat, and nobody got the "D-Man" answer on Jeopardy last night.

While I wasn't expecting a big dose of "Dennis Dunphy fights depression" when I picked up this comic, it's done so well that it makes itself quite welcome. Far from being an arbitrary mouthpiece tacked onto Lockjaw's story, D-Man is actually the focus of this issue. Daniel Kibblesmith's script treats Dennis with dignity and humanity. (It also delivers effortlessly natural dialogue and more than its fair share of humour.) 

I love Dennis's relationship with his neighbour Mrs. Gillespie because he's an out gay man and she's a homophobic retiree and it's immediately obvious that they both think of each other as "one of the good ones" and that's hilarious. Mrs. Gillespie also gets the best line of the book during the space hamster attack - you'll know it when you hit it.

As I mentioned in passing, penciler Carlos Villa does incredible work throughout this book, bringing Lockjaw, the Inhumans, D-Man, space hamsters, and more to life with scrupulous effort. Roberto Poggi's sharp inks and some solid colour work from Chris O'Halloran help to make this book a visual treat.

This issue closes with letters from the creators, and Mr. Villa's is full of breathless gratitude at joining the Marvel family. He's honoured to be drawing not simply Lockjaw, but Jack Kirby's Lockjaw - and the book's splendid art speaks even more eloquently to Mr. Villa's sense of pride than his letter does.

CAVEAT: This series may not be as kid-friendly as you'd expect from a Lockjaw comic. Dennis's sexuality doesn't enter into it, but his depression does. Daniel Kibblesmith's writing makes me 90 percent sure D-Man's story will end up in an uplifting place, but cautious parents will probably want to preview this book before turning it over to under-ten readers.

At the start of the issue, I was hoping for a good "Lockjaw saves his family" adventure. At the end, I'm hoping for a good "Lockjaw saves D-Man" story, and I'm fairly confident that we'll get that. And probably some awesome Lockjaw family action, too. While a faster pace would be welcome, Carlos Villa's gorgeous art and Daniel Kibblesmith's funny script ensure that these first slow steps are highly enjoyable.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Note I was too classy to make the "with a name like Kibblesmith of course Marvel made him write the dog comic" joke. … Until now. Dangit.