The Beef #4 is a brave comic book.
Born from a weird, assuredly hash-induced, Roger Corman-y B-movie pitch, The Beef has done a wildly impressive job of taking it’s bizarre concept and wrapping it around issues that demand your attention. An earlier issue dealt with immigration, police violence, and capitalism, and this issue, it takes issue with the comic’s titular name.
In last month’s issue, we met the antithesis of Chuck; a red, white (nationalist), and blue-blooded cop whose ideals are vastly different than Chuck’s and his family of sorts, more in line with his employer, Vodino’s, and eradicating those who “barely speak American to begin with.”
This Terminator 2-esque cop and Chuck the Meat Man come to blows in a popcorn-ready summer blockbuster action fight with Chuck the victor. Was it a pyrrhic victory, though? Vodino, the big bad embodiment of capitalism by any means necessary, is here to clean things up for himself. It’s not looking good for Chuck.
Issue four is nearly a 1/3 diatribe against the meat (err, cattle?) industry. The meta-message seemingly being, if we’re reading about how a Meat Man can become deadened by his job of killing cows and eating chemical-filled beef, then what are we, possible meat-eating readers?
There’s no subtlety about it, either — it’s literally quite a few pages showing what animals go through for our consumption. If you’ve never seen a PETA video or taken a cursory glance as to what happens to get cow’s milk or beef from slaughterhouse to table, prepare to have an avalanche of guilt descend upon you every time you order a cheeseburger (with a milkshake).
If you’re somewhat aware of things, you may glean some new info (blowtorched nipples and portholes are new to me) and become just a tad bit more cultured in the reading process.
Although the issue is a little preach-y (not a bad thing, all art is trying to fight for something, right?), it takes the grounded subject matter and serves it up in entertaining, pop-y and pulpy Beef style.
The lesson may seem out of place but serves as a mirror to last issue’s MEAT N TATERS villain intro and ties into the ending of this issue. Which, speaking of which, is plot-light after cow plight, but inches the story forward just enough for a how-is-this-fucking-real finale for next month’s issue.
The script and words are ace as always (Vodino’s Bad Guy Monologue™ is a highpoint of the series) and the art — through the character cut-outs to the pain making a home in poor Chuck’s grief-stricken face — is spectacular.
Listen, I strive to stay as objective as possible in these reviews but I have to come out and say about The Beef— I would die for this comic. It’s so goofy and weird and funny and dumb and compelling and goddamnit, maybe important? Where else could this story exist????? I want to tattoo this comic on my fucking face so that I may see it in the mirror every day.
A man turns into like, the marbled muscle Hulk? Because he eats cheeseburgers all goddamn day? And they still fit in a bilingual, biochemical romance? Bury me in The Beef.
The Beef is published by Image Comics.
Richard Starkings– Plot
Tyler Shainline– Script
Shaky Kane– Art
John Roshell– Design
Franciso Bustamante– Nada Grande y Gordo