Welcome back to Graphic Content, Haunted MTL’s longest-running comic review series, where we’ll be tackling a new miniseries from DC Comics called Soul Plumber. This limited series is a unique one in that it is a partnership of DC Comics and the megahit podcast Last Podcast on the Left. Is this a perfect union, or does the relationship leave a little to be desired?
Soul Plumber #1
In a bit of a branding stroke of genius, DC Comics has partnered up with the team of Last Podcast on the Left to deliver a limited series of six issues. Soul Plumber #1 “With Friends Like These – Part One” features a seminary-school dropout in Indianapolis, Edgar, who continues to do his godly work in a novel fashion – as a blue-collar exorcist operating out of a gas station with stolen plans to a “soul plumbing device.” He also finds himself recruiting a disfigured veteran named Elk in the process. As it is a production from the team of Last Podcast on the Left longtime fans of the show are sure to get where this is going right away. For people unfamiliar with the show and the personalities behind it, the issue may be a bit confusing, maybe even a little offputting, but should win a few converts through fun moments of characterization and the novelty of the concept. Blue-collar exorcisms will do that.
The writing is effective, largely on the work of Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski, the main researchers of the show, but the third host, Ben Kissel, does hind his way into some of the storytelling, particularly through a number of Kisselisms that pop up. The issue is also highly referential in a couple of ways – whether it be specific references to jokes from the podcast, like Detective Popcorn, or the dialogue and themes the series looks to be exploring. As far as a first issue goes, this one is rather enjoyable and quite effective in setting up some ongoing fun. The comic hits the well of “truth in lies” pretty hard, but it is a lot of fun in the way it is handled. As far as the characters go – you could easily adapt this comic with the three leads of the podcast playing the roles. Fans of the podcast are likely to read Elk’s lines as though they spill from the mouth of Ben Kissel – though Elk’s crass nature can start to wear thin.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find myself too shocked by the direction of the plot, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. Parks and Zebrowski are hitting the major beats for the type of story they want to tell and as a first issue, there isn’t a ton of room to step outside of the first steps of the journey. Given their sense of humor and storytelling, however, I expect the second issue will introduce an interesting complication or two. For this first issue, the story goes about how you would expect it would.
The comic looks great, too. Interestingly, the art duties are split between pencils by John McCrea and PJ Holden, but there is also a bit of unity in that McCrea is the inker for the whole book. The main difference comes in the “seriousness” of the events depicted – McCrea’s pencils and style are looser, rougher, and grittier overall. Holden’s pencils are seen in specific sequences of what we’d call “soul plumbing” and have a little more “volume” in the style. Not to say McCrea’s designs are flat, but they are more stylized than Holden’s more traditional approach. It still works, however, due to McCrea’s inks.
As far as the other contributions, Mike Spicer’s colors are wonderfully gross with a lot of ugly green and yellow tones befitting the concept. Meanwhile, Becca Carey’s letters are appropriate – sound effects and dialogue balloons, have an unstable quality and the font choice is easy on the eyes. As a whole, the book really comes together from a visual standpoint and really complements the story going on.
DC Horror’s Soul Plumber #1 works as an introduction to a larger story that should appeal to fans of Last Podcast on the Left but could be a harder sell for a general audience. That being said, horror books are pretty big right now, so perhaps people might be keen for a darker, more comedic take on exorcisms – there should be enough buzz to get readers into the door. With that said, some characterization runs the risk of being a bit thin and wearing itself out and the setup isn’t anything overly shocking, but I am eager to see where the team takes the book from here.(4.5 / 5)
DC Horror’s Soul Plumber #1 (of six) is written by Marcus Parks, Henry Zebrowski, and Ben Kissel with art by John McCrea and PJ Holden and contributions by Mike Spicer and Becca Carey. You can buy it from DC Comics, or your local comic shop.
I hope you enjoyed this dive into Soul Plumber. We will continue to cover the series until its resolution and let you know what we think. If you want to share your thoughts on this comic, or pitch a comic to review, let us know in the comments!