Finals – Pfeifer & Thompson

Finals – Pfeifer & Thompson

By Kaustubh Thirumalai
Saturday, 16 June 2007
Kvltblog goes to college!

Huge, dumb, ape-like Boyfriends; attractive, nice, next-door neighbour-ish Girlfriends; the mandatory loser who is too scared to put ‘fitting’ on his neighbour; the weird lunatic who smokes pot and is invariably the smartest of the gang; the geeky genius who builds the unexplainable machine which defies all laws of physics; pointless fraternities; professors hell-bent on making life miserable; Football; bleachers; smutty cheerleaders; Sounds familiar? Yes! This reeks (a rather mephitic stench) of a stereotypical American College setting and that is exactly the situation Finals is set in.


Finals is a 4-issue mini series published by the good folks from Vertigo. Illustrated by Jill Thompson (famous for illustrating a few Sandman, 1001 Nights Of Snowfall issues and interestingly, the wife of 100 Bullets‘ creator, Brian Azzarello) and written by William Pfeifer (Catwoman, Amazon Attack), this comic is not the usual Vertigo comic. That being said, sadly, it does not deliver on par with the usual Vertigo comic.


The mini-series begins by jumping into the convention discussed above rather whole-heartedly. Knox State University fills in the blank space where the college name is supposed to go into the stereotype. After flipping through the initial pages of the first issue it is clear that the comic is about a group of students in their final year who are striving to pass out with flying colours. Their main aim is to come up with the most unique project that their respective departments have ever witnessed. The so called group consists of majors in film studies (Wally Maurer), comparative religions (Nancy Bierce), criminal justice (Dave Oswald), theoretical engineering (Tim Pike), and anthropology (Gary Skelton). Each one has their own problems to take care of. Wally has no clue what his final film submission is going to be on as he hasn’t even started filming yet. Nancy’s cult (kvlt lawl), ‘The Sisterhood of Light’, seems to have a rather fanatical female following even for her own good. Dave Oswald is addicted to robbing petty stores on campus. Tim is trying to build a time machine and he nearly succeeds (Sci-fi twist w00t?). Gary completely isolates himself from society and tries to de-evolve (an American de-evolving shouldn’t take too long I guess). All of them, one by one, succumb to their own projects. The comic tries to convey that the ‘strength through study’ motto doesn’t work so well after all.  This is the basic gist of the story, and if I said anything else I might throw this one away. Fling in the usual emo whining (“My girlfriend left me for a dick!”) and some very contrived humour here and there and the comic’s almost done. The story takes quite a straight path with turns more predictable than those true or false questions on Hollywood Squares. But I must admit that I was a tad surprised with the ending which was the ONLY redeeming factor. (Quite br00tal!)


I was never a fan of Jill Thompson, and Finals doesn’t help in any way. The artwork bordered on ‘just ok’ and ‘not all that bad’ (though all 4 covers were tastefully executed). The story is very meh-ish content and I can’t believe that Vertigo issued this one. If you’re a die hard fan of other Vertigo material I suggest you stay away from this. I was expecting something in the vein of Linklater’s Dazed And Confused, and what I got was something very different, though the whole feel was quite similar. If you’re not into comics too much, don’t mind foreseeable humour and don’t mind whiling away time that can instead be spent doing productive things like reading this review (hurr!), give Finals a shot.
Recommended Music:
Well, if you want to make your reading experience better (you’d definitely want to), listen to some music which would make you feel like you were in college. I went for the whole 70′s Rock scene – Black Sabbath, War, KISS, Alice Cooper, Lynyrd Skynyrd (not like I went to college in the 70′s lawl) and some awesome stoner rock namely Spiritual Beggars, Hermano, Sheavy (yes I actually heard this much through the 4-issue series!). Any of this should do well.