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Hamil, Brett – Slight Return


Slight Return

I figured going into this that this is one of those comics that had the potential to end up going very wrong for me, or maybe I’d end up kind of liking it. Turns out that I loved it! Just another reminder in a lifetime full of them that it’s best not to assume anything based on an intentionally vague description. I was afraid that this was going to be one of those “aged punk and/or hippie returns to their hometown, wanders around aimlessly until the book eventually ends” kind of things, but I was wrong. There are elements of that, sure, but for good reason, and there’s a whole lot more going on with it. It’s a slow build, but things start off with our hero (Kevin) having sex with an old acquaintance after returning to his hometown. We gradually learn that he had had some success as a musician (enough that a large number of people recognize him when he’s walking around town) and that some great calamity has befallen society as a whole. Not bad enough to derail civilization entirely, but there’s no internet or phones, getting food is expensive and you have to “know somebody,” there was an incident where people were butchering a cow in the field right next to the other cows, etc. This is all an undercurrent to a fairly simple story, as Kevin really did come back to town to get away from everything and basically just wants to sleep, ride his skateboard, have sex and read comics. Armed fascists are also a constant underlying threat, so not too far off from our reality now, I guess. I loved the pacing of this book, as there’s no rush to do much of anything and nothing feels all that important, and the absence of constant cell phones and internet is always welcome in stories; it almost always feels like it opens up possibilities other than what you’re used to. The underlying story here, such as it is, is that Kevin gets talked into performing at an outdoor concert, but even that ends up being a very minor event. The ending shocked me, but it was one of those endings where you can’t really see things going any other way if you think about it. It’s a book that I wasn’t expecting to captivate me, but here I sit, captivated, and still thinking about various scenes hours after finishing it. If that’s not a solid endorsement, I don’t know what is. $15