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So the story is solid, interesting and laid out in such a way that very quickly we understand the meaning of the series title. There’s been a high profile murder of the city’s most prominent and popular resident, Jonathan Argos. So high profile that the Chief of Police is on scene for this one.
Meanwhile not far away an alarm is sounding calling the Cavalier’s, Captain Zero’s team, to their headquarters. What happens here is a very interesting take on the split screen idea. We see both the Chief and his lead Detective talking while the team is learning not only the secret identity of the Captain but his fate as well. Something that ties this very closely together. It’s great for dramatic effect that’s for darn sure. As is the characterization all around from both sides.
Two stand out for me the Detective who immediately assumes the Captain and his Cavalier’s are responsible and the glance between to teammates alluding to a look that is shrouded in mystery. The latter is one that I was hoping would be expanded on further this issue with either a hint, a clue or something substantial rather than circumstantial but that’s okay because it makes you wonder if they are directly involved in what’s occurred. The former has some secret about A. why he’s transferred to the city and this unit in particular which B. surrounds his own hatred and mistrust of supers that will make an impact down the road. That much is easy to either imagine or ascertain from his dialogue.
So we’ve got a high profile murder mystery and the heroes are being treated like suspects and it’s quite one might just be guilty. We’ve also got pressure from the higher-ups to solve this and a Detective who’s own agenda could very well be called into question at any given time. This means distractions galore, case in point see the reveal of at least one other hero, as neither will be able to do this alone and working together seems to much as there may little to no trust.
I haven’t heard of nor seen Joshua Flower’s work before, at least not that i’m aware of, so this for me was another nice surprise. He’s got good command of the body and it’s proportions as well as faces and the ability to get emotion to come off the page. With a little more seasoning, see multiple issues on an ongoing series, he’ll become even stronger in using perspective and panel layouts, what we see in the panels being more accurate to life such as heights or positioning of characters. Still he’s got some talent and skill here and I’m excited to see him grow as an artist and make a name for himself.
I really enjoyed this and if you can find it at your local shoppe or subscription service get it. If not head over to www.overgroundcomics.com. This is a solid B or 3 ½-4 star book and it’s a welcome addition the field.
Absent Captain #1
Overground Comics 2015
Written by: Jon Hughes
Illustrated by: Joshua Flower & Jon Hughes
Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: When Jonathan Argos, the wealthiest man in Summit City, is murdered late one night, the city’s greatest heroes, the Cavaliers, are shocked to learn that Argos was the secret identity of their beloved leader, Captain Zero! The team decides to hide this information from the police in order to preserve their own identities, and begin a twisting and turning journey, trying to help the police solve the very same murder that they are inherently covering up. No one is above suspicion in this thrilling murder mystery!
Action Lab: Danger Zone
Written and Illustrated by: Mia Goodwin
Reviewed by: Derrick Crow
Summary: Addison is sixteen. Today is her birthday. She’s been really looking forward to it, especially spending it with her best friend Nick, whom she has a not-so subtle crush on. There’s only one problem… Nick has been murdered, and something stirs within Addison to take revenge on his killers. Thus begins a psychological tale of a broken girl who transforms into a “magical girl” before taking on her adversaries. A downward spiral is imminent.
Review: This was a great opening issue to this new series. It starts out slow, giving us insight into this family during some of their happiest moments before life goes downhill. It opens up on Addison’s 16th birthday, her grandpa and father seem to be the only people in her life besides her friends.
As her dad, who is a detective, gets called to work things quickly go downhill from there. But there’s definitely a mastery of subtlety Mia uses to her advantage in these opening pages, there’s hints we get at the beginning that things aren’t quite right. I mean, technically the opening pages are of Addison post-possibly killing someone and THEN reverting back to her 16th birthday, but past that there’s a lot of subtlety used before the big reveal.
From then the story builds as we get to see Addison grumbling over not being able to get a hold of Nick on her phone still, but her father is dealing with how to tell Nick’s family and then Addison himself.
Like in real life it’s these little snippet of moments “before the protagonist knows” that are the big deal. Because as a reader you know what’s coming, but the protagonist doesn’t, and while you’re wondering what they’ll think when they finally find out about the terrible thing you’re also getting to witness their last moments as a genuinely happy person. It’s a sinking, surreal feeling.
What happens after that even I didn’t see coming. Incorporating magical girl elements into the story, it suddenly turns into a cross between Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent as Addison gets seated near the killers on the train and ends up overhearing them talk about the murder.
She loses her sense of being and ends up killing them in an off-screen fit of rage, but it’s the fact that we didn’t see it happen that makes it more unsettling. Mia goes for quiet moments in this issue, letting things reel in your head rather than show them right out on the page. I like this as it makes each terrible act feel worse than it may have been when actions were taken.
And I’m very interested to see what comes next psychologically for Addison. I wonder just how far she’s going to break as this clearly won’t be her only murder of the series. If Mia can keep up her magic of subtlety for later issues then this could turn into one helluva character study.
Also, I love Mia’s art. It has a really nice look to it. It’s a sort of animated weekend cartoon look without all of the vividly bright colors and instead replacing them with more muted tones to fit the series. If anything this book looks really, really good, but the fact that I am also invested in the story after just one issue really says a lot to Mia’s level of storytelling. I’m really excited to see what happens next.
Final Score: 4.5 Best Friend Necklaces out of 5
Comix Tribe 2015
Written by: Sam Read
Illustrated by: Caio Oliveira
Coloured by: Marissa Louise
Lettered by: Colin Bell
Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: Jack and Mo continue their rescue attempt, as they sneak aboard the Ruleian mothership with help from Scrap and Hanna, while Grunt reveals a secret to the prisoners that shocks them to the core… Spaceships get ram-raided! Mysteries are revealed! Aliens get punched in the face! 2015’s sci-fi punk rock action rollercoaster cranks the volume up to eleven.
After the Earth was semi-evacuated and life was returning to normal many people of Earth were snatched by Ruleians. Mo and Jack having watched family being taken found a Junk Trader and his teenage ward Hanna who agreed to get them into space for a rescue mission. Those who were snatched discovered the Ruleians found their species delicious and were there to satisfy their culinary palate. The humans in space found a friend and ally in Grunt who agreed to help them escape. And here we are.
I have to say this is one those series that on the surface is one you think eh okay but this works on so many levels. It’s like a Nickelodeon show with all the fun that entails, Jimmy Neutron, Rugrats, Doug all of em thrown together to make this as awesome as it is. The characterization is pretty spectacular and on point in ways you don’t expect.
As Grunt explains the fate of Project Exit and that there is one lone survivor on the ship. So as he leads them to rescue him the others use the garbage chute to enter. I like how all this plays out with the duality of seeing both at the same time. Plus seeing the little girl being the voice of reason that they are going to help them was perfect. Out of the mouths of babes as the saying goes.
Meanwhile our rescue team just keeps growing on me more and more as their personalities keep shining through. Plus as they keep moving through the ship and taking care of business they are on a collision course with the escaping folks they are here to rescue is something that pretty genius in it’s execution.
Will this win an award for innovative stuff probably not but it’s solidly written and illustrated with well thought out fleshed out characters and a good premise. In an age of overly dramatic stories it’s great to see some old fashioned fun being infused back the field. This is the kind of stuff that anyone who loved Saturday Morning cartoons is going to enjoy the heck out of this.
Action Lab: Danger Zone
Writers: Dan Mendoza
Pencilers: Marcelo Trom
Reviewer: Derrick T. Crow
Summary: She used to be Hollywood’s hottest high priced call girl, until the bite of an undead john changed her into something deadly different! Now Janey Belle – the street walking dead with supernatural abilities and a copy of the infamous Necronomicon – roams the highways searching for answers as the… ZOMBIE TRAMP!
Corrections: Before I start this review, I would like to make a correction to my review of Zombie Tramp #15. I incorrectly identified the artist of that issue as Marcelo Trom when it was actually Xenia Xiu. In my defense however the art in issue #15 looks incredibly different from Xiu’s artwork in issue #14 which I thought was much better by comparison. I figured it just had to be a different artist and I kept seeing art credits for Marcelo Trom in my research for that issue.
After reading this special though, I now know Trom’s artwork, and so I would just like to apologize for that discrepancy.
Review: Let’s begin by pointing out that Trom’s artwork is really sexy. He’s got a curvy, cartoony style that mixes in well with a myriad of artists that have graced the pages of Zombie Tramp and continues to with the general theme of good artists that fit this series well. I definitely would not mind seeing his art within the pages of of the regular ongoing series. He makes Janey look really hot in this special.
Onto the story however, and I noticed something odd about this issue that you generally don’t see with special holiday issues like this one: Mendoza actually cared. And that’s no jab at him, as he does a wonderful job of nurturing his baby all the time. No, it’s actually a compliment as generally these holiday issues are looked at by companies as money grabs and that “oh, just any old story will do,” and so the person assigned to writing the issue tends to write something really, really crappy.
And yet Mendoza pulls out a stunner of a Halloween Special that I found myself enjoying from beginning to end. It’s a really strong story for the Tramp that has no detriment to the ongoing series or her character and yet features her in great highlight.
The story sees Janey in Mexico on the Day of the Dead as an evil spirit comes after a town and specifically for a girl who has a rare blood type that he feels will make him human again. A simple story plot, I like it. But while the story is filled with a fun fight between her and the baddie, as well as Tramp’s signature crude humor that works well for this series. What the Halloween Special does better than the main ongoing series is that it finally gives Janey a break.
Oh, but she battles an evil spirit in this issue? How is that a break? Well it’s funny how in the Comicfest special issue Janey laments over the fact that she always runs into assholes and two-facers and never anyone she feels like she can trust or enjoy their company. In this special issue she actually runs into that very thing in the girl she is sworn to protect throughout the story. A modest, truly kind girl that gives Janey plenty to smile about and gives her plenty to experience during their time together. Nothing sexual, in case you’re wondering, just genuine fun. It was a really nice, needed break for Janey and ZT readers like myself.
It gave this issue a very relaxing, fun feeling and gave me the same feelings. Where as most holiday specials aren’t generally worth the page count let alone the money needed to put into owning them, this one definitely was and if you haven’t read it yet definitely seek it out for your ZT collection.
Final Score: 4.5 Feel Good Memories out of 5