I’m currently in the process of re-reading many of the graphic novels that I bought in the 90s and have been on my shelves since then. Right now, I’m in the middle of Paul Chadwick’s Concrete and wanted to share with you how wonderful this series was.
I don’t think there’s any other book amongst my graphic collection that is more humanistic than this one. If you’ve never heard of Concrete (fairly likely), then here is the pitch: a young man, promising senatorial speechwriter is abducted by aliens while on a camping trip. His brain is transplanted into a rocky, super powerful body. He manages to escape and, with the help of his former boss, gets enrolled in a scientific program by the US government to examine this first ever example of alien technology. He gets bored at the confinement though, tries to escape but fails. The government realises they can’t hold him in forever, and he strikes a deal: he is presented to the public as the sole surviving cyborg of a failed experimental program. A marketing campaign is thrown to promote him as a benign buffoon, in the hope that he will soon be forgotten by conspiracy theorists.
With a typical super-hero like premisce, Concrete is in fast the anti-thesis of a superhero story, the story of a man whose new body opens a world of possibilities, and makes him… much less than a man. Concrete wants to use his powerhouse body to “make a difference” (cross the Atlantic swimming, save a family of farmers from bankruptcy, build a footbridge in Nepal for an isolated village…) but doesn’t really know what making a difference means. He lives with his assistant Larry and the government biologist Maureen (who he’s madly in love with.)
It’s moving, funny, powerful and most of all (as I said above) humanistic. Concrete is a wonderful observation of our quirky society by an outsider who used to be an insider.
I’ve fallen in love with this series again. And I heartily recommend it.