The assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding his death have fascinated writers for decades. The critical moment in American history has inspired everything from Stephen King's 11/22/63 to Netflix's Inside Job. Now, Boom! Studios' Regarding the Matter of Oswald's Body by author Christopher Cantwell and artist Luca Casalanguida tells a story focusing on the aftermath of JFK's assassination. The first issue assembles a rag-tag team to do a bizarre and macabre job in a fun, character-driven introduction to the series.
Regarding the Matter of Oswald's Body #1 begins in Texas in 1981 with the exhumed corpse of Lee Harvey Oswald, before taking the audience back in time to 1963, where a mysterious man named Frank is assembling a team. Frank recruits a lousy bank robber named Shep, a struggling musician and car thief named Buck, Wainright -- a gun-nut with dreams of joining the FBI, and Rose -- a civil rights activist with a penchant for forging documents. The exact details of their assignment remain mysterious, but it seems to have something to do with Oswald's body.
Cantwell introduces each member of the motley crew with all the charm of Ocean's 11. Each character is given a fun introduction that establishes their history and the tone of the comic. Shep, Buck, Wainright, and Rose are all likable misfits with troubled pasts. Even at their most foolish, it's hard to see these underdogs struggle. Cantwell combines humor and action with an image of 1960s Texas that is remarkably compelling. His decision to jump from the '80s back to the '60s gives the audience a sense of the long-lasting consequences of what's to come while maintaining a strong sense of mystery. In this way, Cantwell adds a palpable sense of tension to every moment of the story.
Luca Casalanguida's art perfectly compliments Cantwell's writing. His depiction of Oswald's decomposing corpse on the first page is a powerful, grisly image that haunts the rest of Regarding the Matter of Oswald's Body #1. But this horrific image is contrasted by funny moments that seem cute by comparison. Casalanguida's thoughtful character design makes the four characters all the more likable. He conveys the often tragic emotional lives of the characters with a rare subtlety that helps ground this conspiracy theory narrative. Paired with colorist Giada Marchisio, Casalanguida portrays a version of Texas in the '60s that is folksy and menacing. The small towns and dive bars seem pastoral, but Marchisio's gloomy colors remind the audience to be wary.
Regarding the Matter of Oswald's Body #1 introduces readers to an endearing cast of characters and sets the stage for a morbid heist of great historical importance. Cantwell uses healthy doses of action and humor to help the exposition fly by at a quick, entertaining pace. Casalanguida's art makes even the slowest scenes visually exciting. This first issue establishes an exciting premise that promises innumerable twists and turns in upcoming issues.
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