TITLE: Concrete vol. 6: Strange Armor
YEAR: July 2006 (Reprinting “Concrete: Strnge Armor” Issues 1-5 and stories from “Concrete: Eclectica Issue #2, “A Decade of Dark Horse” issue #4, “Dark Horse Presents” issue #1, #18 and #20 and “Autographix”.
COMPANY: Dark Horse Books
Story and Art by Paul Chadwick
Lettering: Bill Spicer
Back in 1986, a character known as Concrete would make his debut in “Dark Horse Presents” issue #1.
As stories focused on a real story of a man named Ron Lithgow who was given a stone body by aliens and now has to live his life knowing he lost his humanity, the series focuses on Concrete and the emotions he goes through, now having to relive life in public.
As”Concrete” would win an Eisner Award for “Best Continuing Series” in 1988 and 1989, “Best Black-and-White Series” for 1988 and 1989 and “Best New Series” in 1988 and also earning “Best Writer/Artist Award” for Paul Chadwick in 1989, unless one were able to track down early issues of “Dark Horse Presents” and the earlier issues of the comic run back then especially the five issue limited series “Strange Armor”, before ebay, trying to get to know the history of Concrete was simply… a pain in the arse.
Of course now, one can find the earlier issues, the complete “Concrete: Strange Armor” or the paperback for a reasonable price.
But perhaps I think why I gravitated to “Concrete” was because Ron Lithgow, before he turned into “Concrete” was a congressional aide and then later to a Senator, which I also worked in politics during my younger adult years. And had to dial-in my love for comics, sci-fi and animation to be a “grown-up” (I know, not politically correct and my journalism professors would have disdain for me of doing such thing, but I just have to interject a “LoL”).
“Concrete: Strange Armor” begins with an introduction to Ron Lithgow, a wordsmith and speechwriter and aide for Congressman and later, Senator Mark Douglas,
One day, Ron and another political friend of Ron’s, Michael are going on a camping trip. But first, Ron stops by his ex-wife Lisa’s home.
As the two are hiking a mountain, they come upon a cave but both are captured by concrete-bodied aliens and when the two wake up, their brains were implanted in these alien bodies. Meanwhile, their bodies had the alien brains (of the bodies they were inhabiting), transplanted into their own human bodies.
Wanting to escape from their alien captors, Ron and Michael stage a fake brawl and immediately incapacitate their guard and escape. While the two make the break out of the cave, Michael is caught in a laser beam and both fall into a lake. Meanwhile, the alien’s spacecraft leaves the planet and as Ron, he now walks the planet as Concrete, with his new alien body.
Watching over him is Dr. Maureen Mattingly who observes and does experiments on Ron’s new body and taking over the project is National Security officer, Joe Stamberg. In order to keep the truth about Concrete secret, Joe becomes an agent as Concrete is revealed to the public that he is a cyborg constructed by the government.
And now this cyborg tries to get used to life. But can he put his newfound strength to good use or will he become a media circus?
Regardless, Ron would trade anything to become human again but with this new life that he must live, how will he deal with the fact he lost his humanity?
The TPB also contains a few more short stories featuring Concrete but for those wanting to read an entertaining story and one of Paul Chadwick’s wonderful works will no doubt want to give “Concrete vol. 6: Strange Armor” a try. Not only will it give readers a history of Concrete and the emotions and life he must live, but it can be read and you can then read any other book right after.
If anything, Paul Chadwick manages to create a storyline that has a sci-fi edge, with its monstrous Concrete character but because Concrete was human, it’s a story about human emotion, as Ron Lithgow still maintains all emotions, all memories, it’s just his brain is now in a new body and unfortunately, he must deal with the limitations and the mean criticism that comes his way.
Captivating, entertaining, heartbreaking, action-packed, you no doubt will enjoy the experience of reading “Concrete vol. 6: Strange Armor”.