In this sci-fi debut, a mysterious entity made of trash helps a young man get revenge on a criminal cartel.
Phoenix residents David Turley and his girlfriend, Julie, are finally getting married. He proposed to her at an awards ceremony honoring graphic artists, and the happy couple can’t wait to tie the knot. Driving home, however, they spot a car wreck and a body lying in the road. When David inspects the victim, he isn’t quite dead, and he keeps repeating the word “trap.” Suddenly, members of the Banger crime syndicate appear down the road and begin chasing the panicked couple. Without cellphone service, the pair races further into Banger territory. Eventually, David and Julie exit the car at gunpoint; she’s kidnapped, and he’s shot in the head but survives. Soon, a vagrant alerts the authorities, and David is rushed to Muni Hospital. There, he’s treated with an experimental drug called Neurogen, which regenerates his neurons and imbues him with an accelerated healing factor. His would-be killers, however, return to the hospital to finish the job. An ambulance chase ensues, and David ends up hiding in an alley filled with trash. He and the Bangers are shocked when a hulking trash creature forms and battles on David’s behalf. In his debut, Dean tells an unconventional superhero tale that’s equal parts mystery and action romp. During the fight sequences, the tone straddles the line between brutality and campiness; in one scene, a Banger’s “neck snapped, and his glass eye popped out.” Throughout much of the narrative, the author teases readers with a possible connection between David and the no-nonsense Garbageman, a being who coalesces from street trash and discarded metals. The creature also spouts morbid one-liners; for example, after crushing Bangers in a van, he says, “Now that’s what I call a compact car.” Dean fleshes out his cast with a clever band of disenfranchised businessmen whom the Bangers have ruined and who help locate Julie and determine the Garbageman’s strange origin. The epilogue hints at more “trashing time” to come.
Pure grisly fun.