Blast v3 cover by Manu Larcenet

Blast v3: “Head First”

Writer and Artist: Manu Larcenet
Lettering: Calix Ltd.
Translator: Thomas Scott-Railton
Published by:  Dargaud/EuropeComics
Number of Pages: 205
Original Publication: 2013

 

Then Things Just Get Upsetting

blast v3 polza drinks while under interrogation

Look, Polza is not a nice man.  He’s not a well man.  He does bad things.

But over the course of the first two and a half volumes of this story, Manu Larcenet has created a character who you might pity, but you’ll eventually find reasons to like, in a crazy kind of way.  A lot. Bad things do happen to him, but he sucks them up and presses on.  He’s a survivor.  And, every once in a while, he smiles when he believes his warped is validated by another.

He’s a man who should be locked up or confined to an institution or something. He’s so far gone, though, you root for him.  He has a childish quantity that makes him sympathetic, yet a maturity of higher level thought that makes him impressive.  He is an underdog in a world that works another way.  Rooting for the underdog is a natural thing that Larcenet cashes in on in “Blast.”

Blast v3 Polza and one of his favorite statues

And as much as he’s been picked on, and belittled, and misunderstood, most of his damage is self-inflicted.  He can’t help who he is, and he’s learned to live with that.  He’s gotten through it all and come out the other side with a smile and a recognition that life is bigger than he is.  The world is a place we don’t observe as much as we should.  There are bigger truths Polza has yet to discover.  Who cares if he’s smelly and his clothes are a mess, and he sleeps under a tarp in the woods at night?

 

No “Good” Deed Goes Unpunished

blast v3 Polza wakes up to two Russians stealing his booze

For as much as Larcenet has put Polza through in the series up to this book, he’s let him off fairly easily.  It’s a bad world out there, and the bad people Polza has come across have been fairly benign.  Some have even tried to help him.

Then, this book happens, and Polza comes across a couple of ne’er-do-wells that change everything.

What happens in this book about halfway through is so upsetting and so bad, that I almost didn’t want to write this review.  It’s genuinely gut-wrenching.  Thankfully, 95% of it happens off-camera, but the fall out from it is immense.  It’s the event in the book that is an inflection point.  It’s the part of the story where we turn the corner and the events, at last, are put into motion to bring us to the end.  People start coming together, and things happen that presage other things that make you start guessing at every page turn that the end is coming.

 

But, Wait, There’s More!

Larcenet doesn’t let you off that easily, though.  There’s still another whole book to go.  And while this one ends on a couple of twists in this case, we still don’t know the whole story.  And we don’t know which story to believe.  That’s the most interesting part of reading this book.  It’s the Rorschach test of what you see after you hear all the stories.  Who do you believe?  How much of what Polza experiences is him exaggerating stuff, making stuff up, or leaving important details out?  It all comes out eventually. You can’t run from the truth forever.

Blast v3 by Many Larcenet: Polza meets Carol

This is where Polza and Debbie meet.  That’s only after a particularly bad episode lands Polza in a mental institution, where he continues to be Polza. He daydreams of those Easter Island rocks. He refuses to believe he’s sick or that he needs help.  He is annoyed by most of the people surrounding him, particularly the helpful ones and the nicest ones around.  Things end badly at the hospital and, as we can guess from the hints across the series so far, things will end badly at that farm where Debbie lives.

The finale is coming next…

 

Recommended?

Blast v3 cover by Manu Larcenet

Yup.  Of course.  At this point, this series is easily in my top ten reads of the year.  I don’t know which series it’s forcing off that list, but someone has got to go.

I’ve been holding off reading book four until I finished writing this review.  I’d hate to get confused on the timeline and talk about scenes from the wrong book.  Now that I’m done writing this review, I’m rewarding myself with a quiet hour to absorb the fourth and final book.

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #89.)

 

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