BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 BY LELA GWENN, MATTHEW DOW SMITH, AND KELLY FITZPATRICK
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Minor art issues aside, BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 features a charming and care-free female lead. It has great pacing and a strong opening page. Readers who want more a little superstition in their comics, should check out this series.
90 %
MYSTERIOUSLY CHARMING
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Need some serendipity in your life? Better call Chuck! Do you need to commit insurance fraud but don’t want to get your hands dirty? Chuck is definitely your girl for that. That’s the premise for BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 by writer Lela Gwenn, artist Matthew Dow Smith, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick. This Dark Horse Comics mini-series follows Charlene “Chuck” Manchester, a woman who seemingly has bad luck and uses it to make money. What kind of bad luck are we talking? Let’s just say Chuck creates a domino effect wherever she goes.

Part crime story, part detective story, BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 is fast-paced with a feminist twist. The title is a play on the 2007 movie GOOD LUCK CHUCK, but thankfully this comic doesn’t revolve around a romantic comedy premise. Instead, what you can expect is a cinematic, superstitious romp full of destruction.

The Ramifications of Chuck’s Curse Drives the Plot

Right off the bat, we meet Chuck in the middle of a job and immediately know she’s bad luck. That is to say that Chuck indirectly sets a laundromat on fire by virtue of walking inside. As a result, she commits insurance fraud for a client. Afterwards we learn that a pair of men who work for a crime boss are in pursuit of Chuck. In addition, insurance investigator Ean Sterling also pursues Chuck because he’s followed her trail for eight years. When a woman named Mrs. Afolayan hires Chuck to bring her daughter, Fayola, back from a cult, disaster ensues.

BAD LUCK CHUCK #1
Image courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

Eventually, we meet Fayola and the cult leader, Papa Freedom. But the aforementioned men pursue Chuck to the cult gathering. As you can imagine, things go awry fast. Thanks to Chuck’s presence, the cult gathering literally goes up in flames. But things aren’t quite what they seem as we learn that the men are Mrs. Afolayan’s goons. In addition, we also learn Fayola is set to inherit a fortune but her mother wants her out of the picture.

These are just some of the many twists Gwenn throws into this issue. With the first page, Gwenn clearly establishes our heroine and what she’s about, which I think is good storytelling. As such, it sets the tone for the series. At times, BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 feels like I’m watching a TV show pilot. Certainly it is debatable whether or not Gwenn and company created what’s essentially a pitch for a TV show or a movie. Nonetheless, I think the plot is enjoyable due to its titular character.

The Sassy Chuck Manchester

BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 features a main character who underscores some of the issue’s feminist themes. Throughout, Chuck outsmarts the men and carries herself confidently. In addition, there’s an air of mystery about Chuck because we don’t know who cursed her or how it happened. Nevertheless, we know Chuck doesn’t like being called Tashi for some reason. We also know that she carries good luck charms to subdue her curse. I’m curious to learn more about her past and how she ended up making a business out of her “gift.”

 

As for the other characters, I think they’re decently fleshed out. Plus, it helps that there are characters of color in this series. For instance, when we meet Mrs. Afolayan (who’s African-American), readers can tell that something is up with her. It’s only later that we learn that Fayola is trying to get away from her mother. Speaking of Fayola, she provides some humorous quips in this issue, like when she can’t help but comment on Chuck’s decor. These just some of the colorful characters in the story who I look forward to seeing how they develop.

The Art in BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 Feels Cinematic

Aesthetically, artist Matthew Dow Smith nails the cinematic feel of BAD LUCK CHUCK #1. Smith draws characters with their faces covered in shadows in a manner similar to film-noir movies. Additionally, Smith crafts believable environments that feel lived-in with details like the good luck charms in Chuck’s home. That said, the art is not without its share of problems. In particular, I think the art looks a bit rough at times with characters’ hands looking off and characters’ expressions can look stiff during dramatic moments. However, as a whole, Smith does a solid job bringing us into Chuck’s world.

BAD LUCK CHUCK #1
Image courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

Complementing Smith’s art, Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors flesh out the cinematic feel. Fitzpatrick’s colors are simple and more on the flatter side but it works well. In particular, I quite enjoyed the fact that Chuck stands out wearing a red shirt and blue trench coat. Of course, it’s easy to identify those colors with Superman. However, that makes Chuck stand out among other characters. Overall, Fitzpatrick’s color work in this series reminds me of A SCANNER DARKLY (the movie) — which is a good thing.

Closing Comments on BAD LUCK CHUCK #1

While BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 ends on a self-contained note, there’s some interesting bits to chew on. With a new companion in tow and three angry antagonists, Chuck has plenty to look forward to. If you enjoy shows such as PSYCH but with a female lead, BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 is an easy recommendation. It’s got charm, it starts strong and stays consistent, and has a somewhat zany but grounded plot.

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