What a weird and wonderful five issues The Beef has been.
What began as a Troma-meets-Cronenberg-B-Movie comic has become a limited series that’s used its platform to launch a screed against cruelty, to both man and animal.
In its final chapter, Beef #5 goes off the rails, in the best comic book way possible. Gandhi — yes, literally GANDHI — narrates to readers in docu-style, and even more vivid and horrifying detail, what cows (and bulls) go through to bring their bodily products to us.
Anal stimulation, electro-ejaculators, and semen collection; it’s not one of those videos you typically watch via Incognito Mode, it’s the horrifying normalcy cows experience to bring that Big Mac before our inconsiderate or ignorant faces.
Gandhi continues, espousing eastern platitudes that he can’t seem to remember whether they’re his or not. It’s incredibly silly (“We must kill the will to kill… wait, that’s not one of mine, I think that was Buddha!), and immediately juxtaposed against the All-American “What in a world of tarnation are you talkin’ about?”
[**Spoilers below for The Beef #5 and for the series!]
Gandhi immediately gets his head blown off and a South Park scream of “YOU KILLED GANDHI” erupts from the titular BEEF, perhaps the zaniest this comic gets.
Without just rehashing the comic, The Beef as a series, to me, has seemed like a thesis demanding peace, no matter what amount of power we’re given.
Readers are given two sides of this same coin with Chuck, defending the helpless, and the Vodino family, preying upon the helpless.
Beef #5 seems to show a culture war between shifting ideas in today’s America–one of understanding and changing lifestyles, another of absolute Darwinism, Conquering Because We Can.
Despite somber occurrences throughout the issue, humor punctuates throughout the issue in the dialog, Starkings and Shainline saving their best work and punchlines for this last issue (Gandhi is worse than a socialist or a communist– he’s a hippie!), fleshing out the ghoulishness of the Valdinols as well.
In the face of absolute carnage and violence received from the Voldino’s, Gandhi still calls for peace. An eye for an eye, that platitude.
The series ends on a sad note, the bad guy winning, with a message seemingly telling readers “Hey, we’re fucked.” But maybe Gandhi, maybe Chuck, even if we’re fucked, are avatars to tell us we need to keep trying, even in the face of certain multiple chainsaw-related death. As Gandhi says, “Sacrifice needs to have a deep, spiritual meaning.”