by BRIAN CHURILLA
Brian Churilla’s The Secret History of D.B. Cooper, from Oni Press, is an interesting read. Taking a psychological-tinged look at the mysterious real-life hijacking case.
In case you didn’t know, the man known as D.B. Cooper (he really called himself Dan Cooper, but typographical errors are a funny thing) hijacked a Boeing 727 over the Pacific Northwest in 1971, taking two million in ill-gotten US dollars and disappearing out the back of the plane with a parachute strapped to his back, never to be seen again.
Needless to say, a working knowledge of the real events isn’t very necessary to read and enjoy this comic. This is a world that isn’t quite ours, but one that may exist just underneath the surface, hiding below unsolved mysteries like the Cooper case. Churilla’s book reads like a psychedelic retelling of some of the psychic warfare efforts by Cold War governments of days gone by.
Basically, think Men Who Stare at Goats, only on acid. But even that pithy summary falls short of aptly describing this book. Churilla (late of Marvel’s Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet) lays out his own version of what may have went on “behind the scenes” of Cooper’s infamous heist. Taking the view that Cooper was a federal agent trained for the purpose of fighting the American government’s on a psychic plane of existence. When our story begins we see Cooper, in the aforementioned astral world, splitting open the head of a massive dragon-like beast with the help of a katana and an imaginary teddy bear. Meanwhile, events in the Soviet Union parallel this, a Russian official dying of a mysterious head wound inflicted by forces unknown.
Churilla’s art style is a borderline cartoony one, and in some ways it shouldn’t work with this kind of concept, but it does. The dialogue is well-written, which is an exception to the general rule regarding stories like this. Despite its use of disparate story elements and genre tropes, The Secret History of D.B. Cooper succeeds well in, at least, setting up a world of characters that shows promise.
This comic is not bad at all. It’s not amazingly great and, as a first issue, D.B. Cooper is not terribly substantive, but it definitely shows enough quality and promise to give us all an incentive to check out the second issue (out this month).
IN TWO WEEKS: Dream Reavers #2, for reals!