No Capes Allowed: Concrete
What would happen if you were made out of 1200 pounds of concrete? You could still walk and talk. You still had the exact same brain and personality. But your skin was made of almost impenetrable rock. This is the central question posed by the series Concrete by Paul Chadwick. The entire series basically exists to answer that very question. And the answers to that question are really where the fun of this comic book lies.
Concrete (which is the name he answers to) comes across as a completely normal guy. Except, again, for the fact that he seems to be made completely out of stone. But the amazing wonderfulness of this series is in how mundane and ordinary the world is that Concrete lives in. It’s basically our world, except there just happens to be this crazy rock guy that lives in it. And, predictably, this rock guy gets a ton of media attention, as he would in our world. He goes on the Tonight Show, gets fan mail, and is even solicited by politicians for favors during election season.
The beauty of this world, though, doesn’t come from all of the hilarious possibilities of “how would a rock man do such and such” (although, there are plenty of those moments). The best stuff, instead, comes from the relationship that Concrete has with those around him. The researcher, Maureen Vonnegut, who is constantly running Concrete through scientific tests, and whom Concrete is clearly crushing on. Concrete’s newly hired assistant Larry who is realistically rendered as an opportunistic grad student that partially wants to use his relationship with Concrete to further his own career, but at the same time is incredibly sympathetic to him, as well.
Also, it is incredibly refreshing to finally see a big, hulking monster of a comic book character that truly is a completely normal person. He’s really the anti-Hulk. And yes, the Fantastic Four’s The Thing, Ben Grimm, is always portrayed as a moody loner who isn’t really angry, just misunderstood. But Concrete is none of those things. He’s just normal. That’s what is so radical about these comics.
In his intro to Depths: Concrete Book 1, Paul Chadwick says “I was asked whom he would fight, what super-foes… Nope. Just one hapless rock-coated fellow, enduring the consequences of my asking the question: what would I do in his shoes?” And what Paul Chadwick would do is entertaining, hilarious, moving, and cinematic.
In Depths we see some of the earliest work that Chadwick did on Concrete. It definitely lives up to its name, because the deeper you get into the book, the further down into complicated origin of Concrete’s condition you go. It is at once a beautifully simple and humanly complex story that will draw you farther in from one page to the next. Depths: Concrete Book 1 is $13.95 and is published by Dark Horse Books.
Would you read Concrete?