Story: Paul Tobin
Art: Alberto Albuquerque
Colors: Mark Englert
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
It’s all very nice that math genius Jack Beans is following through on his “kill them all” solution to the “a crime family is trying to kill me” equation, but everyone makes mistakes, and Jack knows that mistakes always…ALWAYS…catch up to you. One fingerprint left behind, and now it’s not just the Pinafore Crime Family on his trail, but an entire city’s police force as well! The big odds keep getting bigger!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
While I’ve had mixed success with Paul Tobin’s works overall as some work and some don’t, the quality of both is generally pretty strong and that marks it worth taking the risk on something new. With A Calculated Man, the opening issue was certainly interesting in what it was doing and the characters but some of the structure for it left me a bit cool at times as it felt more explanatory than anything else. It did work well in having Alberto Albuquerque on the art duties. I’ve enjoyed some of their work before, notably with Letter 44, so getting something grounded like this definitely makes for a good time in seeing how they handle a crime story. A Calculated Man has a lot going for it in the concept and the opening issue sets up things in a big way.
With the second issue, things work in a better form for me as it’s more in the present with itself and has a kind of playfulness that delivers even as dark things are going on. The core idea is that we have for a good chunk of it Jack and Omaha filling in his new handler on things and kind of making it clear that he expects a certain level of privacy as well. He’s quite open about events in the aftermath of his escape and how they dealt with those that followed him trying to kill him, which lead to his being picked up by the cops and ending up in witness protection. That he was able to also reveal quite a number of corrupt officials as well as put away a lot of bad people that will take years to prosecute – and thereby keep him protected – it’s definitely a proper playing of the numbers in order to succeed in staying alive.
Where this issue felt like it really succeeded is in his relationship with Vera, a woman that he’s been texting. It’s playful in that he’s roleplaying who he really is while “pretending” to be a normal guy while she roleplays as a stripper. The two have a lot of chemistry and their phone calls are a hoot. When the dates start it just adds more color to it all and you can see just how much fun it is, and why Jack is into it all as much as he is. But blending that with him doing his best to eliminate the Keys along the way with a really intense if brief action sequence is done really well. The balance of the various stories at play works well and ramping up the danger to him with a potential discovery, which feels like it’s something that he’s calculated for, should be interesting to watch unfold.
I enjoyed the first issue a good bit but this one really cemented my enjoyment in a larger way. The addition of Vera and getting past the setup phase of it all helped a whole lot and made it a lot more engaging. Jack is a delight as he tries to be truthful while also hiding things so openly that you have to admire it even if it could blow up in his face spectacularly. It’s got a lot of well-executed moments in terms of character but it also delivers that right in the action department as well. It’s really smartly done and hopefully avoids the trap of being too smart for itself as it progresses.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: AfterShock Comics
Release Date: July 20th, 2022