Writer: Samuel L. Jackson & Eric Calderon
Artist: Jeremy Rock
Published: 2010, BOOM! Studios
Vanity projects are a staple of the rich and famous. Hollywood is rife with 'em. From Ben Affleck's critically acclaimed [somehow] The Town, to the pyramids of ancient Egypt, those that can afford to shell out the funds for that kind of shit often do, to mixed results. Personally, I found The Town to be unrealistic, melodramatic and self-important, but the pyramids seem to have stood the test of time [ha!].
Anyway, hold on to your butts: here we have a Samuel L. Jackson vanity project, in the form of a comic book miniseries. Pretty modest as far as vanity projects go. Hey, at least it's not an attempted music career.
Cold Space is, as Jackson writes in his comic's introduction, a “space western” [figured I'd jump from a “traditional” western from the last review to one of the “space” variety]. It takes place in the year 4012 [wow!] on “the frontier of space”. Mulberry [Jackson, basically], a gun-for-hire, is being pursued by SPACE COPS and ends up crash-landing on an “unidentified moon”. Seeing as the moon has inhabitants, I'm not sure why it remains unnamed. Laziness?
Our protagonist is taken prisoner by the “Moon Motorcycle Gang”, another fine example of the writing we are dealing with. Mulberry escapes, makes his way to the local kingpin of crime, Mario Waid, offers his services and is promptly hired.
Being the devious dude that he is, Mulberry also meets with the opposing crime lord, in an attempt to play both sides. The shit hits the fan, however, as Mario's syndicate is taken over and the new leader makes it his first priority to take out all the competition in town. A large brawl ensues at the local moon saloon.
Naturally, the space cops show up as Mulberry is making his escape, but his ass is saved by the smitten female leader of the Generic Name Bike Gang. It just struck me that the closest thing the book makes to a statement is that police are petty and incompetent.
Although it cuts to the chase [literally!] and doesn't waste any time on exposition, that becomes more of a problem than an asset. The book is fairly bare-bones and the “recaps” at the beginning of each chapter come across as super-repetitive. When not much happened in the last 24 pages and you spend a page recapping that lack of happenings, it seems unnecessary.
Jackson and Calderon have previously worked together on the animated show Afro Samurai, which I'll admit I have not seen, so I can't really tell if Cold Space is a step up or down. Apparently Calderon is Emmy-nominated, but I was really not impressed by any of the writing. I kind of think award shows are a joke anyway.
I noticed that some characters would have some cool device or be wearing something cool for seemingly no reason other than it looks cool. Some character names [Patience, Tommy2] seem to exist just for the sake of bad puns. There is some extremely nonsensical sexual tension between our protagonist and the big-breasted biker bimbo. I found that the story relies too heavily on Jackson's persona, making it entertaining but not really interesting.
Overall, to me, it seems like not a helluva lot of effort went into this comic. Cookie-cutter plot, one-dimensional characters, clichés abound... The most refreshing part of the whole thing is when Sam “Mulberry” Jackson does his trademark bad motherfucker bit, but even that is old hat. The man has been doing it for pretty much his entire career. I mean, he does it well, but it is far from new ground. Jackson is almost a cliché of himself at this point.
But you can't fault the man for liking comics and wanting to create his own. In his [fairly hilarious] introduction, Jackson writes about his childhood love of comics that has followed him to manhood, often slipping into badass mode. You can really hear the attitude in his voice as you read. It leads me to wonder if Jackson's badassery isn't a character he puts on. Maybe it's just who he is as a person. If that is the case... he's a terrible actor.