Looking Through the Longbox – Pride & Joy

Back in 1997 Garth Ennis could (more or less) do no wrong. He was deep in the throes of writing both Preacher and Hitman, two fantastic finite series that stand among the greatest series ever. Also released in that time was a smaller 4 issues series from Vertigo called Pride and Joy.

Ennis was joined by John Higgins in this moody, violent story about mistakes of the past, fathers and sons, and the amorphous nature of “being a man.”

Jimmy Kavanagh is a single father raising Rachel, his young daughter and Patrick, a sullen, intellectual, emotional teenage son. Jimmy’s a tough, stoic alpha male like his dad, a World war 2 vet who Jimmy holds up as the pinnacle of masculinity. All Jimmy wants is for his son to grow up and “be a man” like him and his father. But their personalities are so different that JImmy feels like he’s just slipping away.

So life is difficult, and gets worse when Jimmy gets a phonecall from a man called Stein.

Stein is a part of Jimmy’s past he hoped to never hear from again. Soon Jimmy is gathering his kids and going on the run from the predatory boogieman. He runs across his ex-partners who are likewise on the run from Stein.

The end of the first issue hits hard and sets up the violence that awaits Jimmy and his family, as Stein calmly stalks his prey, and Patrick learns about his father’s past.

Pride and Joy is as fast-paced and brutal as it is emotionally strong. Ennis’ strength in creating well-layered characters shines here. And I dare you to not have even the smallest hint of a lump in your throat on the final page. As long as he’s generally kept away from Superheroes, Ennis is consistently good, and this mini is a great, easily digestible vignette that plays to a lot of his strengths. If you dig Ennis and have not read it, or just want something short and powerful, check out Pride and Joy, available in a collected edition wherever such things are sold.

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