Comic Review: Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T (One Man War on Terror)
The new comic from writer/artist Benajmin Marra, Terror Assaulter is – to put it mildly – not for everyone (although what is?). A deliriously violent, absurdly funny satire of post-9/11 US foreign policy; 80’s and 90s action movies; and the troubling link between sex and extreme violence in the image of idealised macho masculinity, it’s easily one of the most ‘marmite’ comics this writer has ever read.
To quote the synopsis on the back of the book:
“As a response to the 9/11 terrorist assault on America’s freedom, President George W. Bush ordered the creation of a top secret team of foreign service agents: THE TERROR ASSAULTERS. Operating with a license to kill and a single mission – defeat terror – one such agent, codename: O.M.W.O.T (One Man War On Terror) will do anything to accomplish his goals.”
This loose premise is basically just a set-up for a series of increasingly violent, and endearingly ridiculous, sequences of the titular Terror Assaulter – a muscular, Aryan-looking guy who barely speaks and is constantly smoking – mowing down terrorists with preternatural ease (taking the occasional break to have graphic sex with both men and women who immediately find his no-nonsense, cool-headed psychopathy to be inexplicably attractive). Oh, and the sex really is graphic, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination and giving the book some of its most profane laughs, as our ‘hero’ engages in the kind of explicit acts rarely seen outside of hardcore porn. He’s like James Bond taken to the logical extreme; all the casual violence and sex that is mostly just hinted at in that series, here rendered in unflinchingly stark detail.
Marra’s artwork has the same love-it-or-loathe-it quality as the book’s overall content. Objectively, it’s all rather ugly, with gaudy, queasy colours and implacably off-putting faces, but it just works in the context of the book’s general strangeness. Marra draws action sequences very well, with a kinetic flow obviously inspired by the kinds of over-the-top action movies Terror Assaulter is riffing on, and the book’s ultraviolence is not only there for visceral purpose, or to make its points about the inherent unpleasantness of this character and his world (although it makes these points very snarkily), but also for humour’s sake.
Marra also makes a running joke of having characters very matter-of-factly point out the violent things happening to/around them (“you opened my neck! AAAHGGHHH!”) and there’s something bizarrely hilarious about it. The same extends to the sex scenes, with characters giving totally unnecessary verbal descriptions of the sex as it happens. Our protagonist also makes a habit of saying obvious things, prefaced by “let’s just say…”, as though they’re quips. For example, upon one character pointing out how O.M.W.O.T has just used a disguise, he replies “let’s just say…. ‘correct’.”
It’s baffling, it’s bizarre, it’s brilliant. Let’s just say… “check it out”.