I was excited for this one after discovering Absent Captain. Why? Well because the opposite side of the same coin of that book. The Hero Corporation creates heroes as they have developed a way to inject people with a serum that has the possibility of granting them super powers unlike Zero Technologies which uses gadgets and costumes to create theirs.
I have to say this first issue delivers on all cylinders as it’s a great introduction to the cast of characters, what the company is about and who all is involved. I like that we open with the events that opened Absent Captain, namely the death of Jonathon Argos. We’ve seen this referenced in Absent Captain as they have a board meeting about the implications of his death and what’s going to happen with Zero Technologies. It’s a brunt and brutally honest look at corporate America and how we would imagine them behaving with one difference, Mr. Allen.
From there we get a nice look at how Mr. Allen runs this company and how he works with his own team of superheroes. Surge is leader of the HeroCorp Knights and he and Jeramy, Mr. Allen, talk about adding a new member to the team’s ranks. I liked this for a number of reasons chief among them is that this is a chance to see the creativity and imagination Jon has in creating his characters. When you have a book like this and a world full heroes and villains it’s great to see whom he has in the wings.
In the boardroom there mention of a young woman who ran out on her contract, she’s seen in another Overground series I can’t wait to start. So seeing some of the others Jon has created and has possibly an affinity for is good stuff. It helps flesh out the world he’s creating and keeping this and basically all the books firmly rooted in the same universe. It’s the small things like this that really show a sense of what he has in mind, the care he’s put into this and his passion for what he’s helping create.
Also the characterization this issue is pretty darn impressive. I like seeing Jeramy fleshed out this way and Plus One, not to be confused with Plus Ultra, and her role in the company and his life add a certain something both sweet and volatile that begs to explored further. Oh and you’ve got to read his narrative self-assessment or thereof as it’s a huge clue about the man himself. Plus it has a nice little cliffhanger style ending whose imagery makes you even more intrigued in coming back for more.
As fledgling companies go I have to wholeheartedly endorse Overground Comics and tell y’all that you need to find them, order them from your stores, subscription services or through digital outlets because this is the kind of universe that’s been missing since the “Big Two” have decided to keep reinventing themselves time and again.
HeroCorp Knights #1
Overground Comics 2015
Created, Written & Illustrated by: Jon Hughes
Assists by: Jennifer Asher
Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: Everything that is relevant in life eventually becomes a business. Why should superheroes be any different? The Hero Corporation, dubbed HeroCorp by the public, sells a future in heroism to anyone who qualifies based on their standards. For years, HeroCorp has helped bring out the best in people, but it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong. Has that time come? Enjoy HeroCorp Knights #1!
Graduate #1 (of 6)
Overground Comics 2015
Written by: Jon Hughes
Illustrated by: Celia Calle
Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: Natalie Worthy was an average American teenager, until the day that she discovered that she was apparently completely impervious to harm. This is her story.
I like this book as it’s another aspect of this world Natalie lives in. With Absent Captain and HeroCorp Knights we’ve seen how some superheroes are created but here Natalie discovered this on her own and had no help in gaining this ability. So unlike those others what does a person who wasn’t seeking to be a hero do once they discover they aren’t like anyone else? We all say “oh if I had powers I’d…..” but in all honesty we can’t say what we’d do at nineteen years old facing something this unexpected and I find it interesting to see how her experiences will shape her choices and how she’ll live her life now.
Nothing is black and white, clear cut or easy in life regardless of race, gender or religious upbringing so why should being invulnerable. If you take the time to really read what’s happening it’s abundantly clear that Natalie while maybe not necessarily troubled isn’t coping with things too terribly well. She’s on a plane with a group of other people who apparently also have powers but the exact reason why or where she’s supposed to be heading are vague. I like it this way because Jon isn’t giving you the answers he wants you to wonder about why and then come back and find out as the series goes on.
So while not everything we need to know is presented, though the second to last page tells us a lot, we do get a very good first look at her and the biggest event in her life that is going to change it forever. This is interesting, exciting and decidedly different from pretty much everything else you are currently reading. Throughout the entire issue you see Natalie as this spoiled little girl unhappy with her current situation and as this man out of the blue creates havoc on the plane she’s traveling on she’s indecisive and in no way a hero. She’s a girl out of her comfort zone and unsure what all this really means so for the next five issues she’s a perfect person to see grow and evolve as she comes to grips with her new life. Plus someone just tried to kill her and if it were me that wouldn’t sit well and doesn’t with her either but the real question becomes is it a case of revenge or will she become the hero she thought she couldn’t be?
Celia has a very decidedly unique and original style of art. In some aspects it comes across as amatuer, the faces most noticably, and at other times it’s just really interesting to see. When the bad guy appears his visage is both fascinating and frightening feelings that should be there are and it’s just eye catching. The violence is nice because it’s subtle and not overt or gory which leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination. It’s definitely not a style I’m used to seeing and yes it’s interesting and yes it’s dynamic and is proving to be as unique as Natalie herself. It’s like someone who’s used to doing pin-ups getting their feet wet in a real monthly so it’ll be nice to see her grow and evolve as well.
I’m beyond thrilled that I’ve discovered Overground Comics. It has all the hallmarks of a company whose books all share the same universe and have that unlimited potential and creativity we’ve missed. I’m hoping this is the Little Engine that Could and you’ll be excited by these books as I am.
Alan Dracon #1 (of 6)
Amigo Comics 2016
Created, Written & Illustrated by: Stefano Martino
English Adaptation by: El Torres
Lettered by: Malaka Studios
Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: ALAN DRACON is just a bodyguard trying to make a living. But this is the future, and to survive Alan Dracon must deal with high-tech industrial moguls, genetically modified organisms… and seductive corporates. And most of them want him DEAD.
So this story is pretty great. I like the premise behind the story and aside from Alan himself being a bodyguard with a shady past the job he’s hired to do here is really what garnered my interest. The idea of Bio-engineering a species to work in an atmosphere humans have trouble with and then someone taking that technology and twisting it create to a monster well it’s not only the stuff of nightmares but it’s also the stuff that thrills us to no end.
Another thing I found incredibly interesting is that the only change here from it’s original source material is that Torres did an English translation so nothing else has been changed. That gives me a chance to see Stefano’s work, get a chance to know and appreciate his talent. Speaking of which these interiors are incredible, in part they remind me of some old George Perez work and that they are in black and white they really give notice his attention to detail. His linework and backgrounds really help create all kinds of drama here. Plus the way he uses pages and panels to navigate the flow of the story is beautifully done.
Since this my first time seeing, hearing or reading about Alan Dracon the background information we get on him, from him and those around him, really paint a picture of him. He’s definitely interesting, seems to have a set ethics and a code he lives by and while not afraid of killing he’s done too much of that in his life and wants to be different man than he was. Though womanizing will always be a priority. In his case the flirtation and his inability to stop is great to see because it’s so honestly portrayed in a non-sexist manner, i’m super impressed and pleased with it.
We are introduced to the story, the characters, why Alan’s been hired as well as those responsible for his hiring. I like the way it all ties together and that while he’s found the reason for our opening scene there’s a lot more going on than anyone realizes and it’s going to be a long, drawn out and incredibly exciting ride till this story is over. In a sense some of this is moving fast but then again while secrets have been revealed that’s a far cry from finding the perpetrator. So we’ve got a great opportunity to see this absolutely gorgeous scenery and this exotic locale not to mention a heck of a monster thriller in the making.
There’s a lot to be said for this book, all positive. It’s also incredibly great to see work from around the globe spotlighted and given exposure. I’ve long said there’s more than just American books that should be noticed and read and this is prime example of why broadening your scope beyond what you’re used to could lead to something promising and new.
With a great concept, strong story pacing and wonderful characterization complemented by some stunning interiors this is the kind of thrill ride that makes roller coasters jealous.
Scout Comics 2016
Created & Written by: A.C. Medina
Illustrated by: Kevin Shah
Coloured by: Ross A. Campbell
Lettered by: Micah Myers
Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: The adventures of the first great superhero of 2016 continues here! Welcome to Brooklyn! Brother V’s new regime takes full force as the new sectors of Brooklyn run red with blood as a gang war fills the streets. With his Captains at each other’s throats, how far will Brother V go to keep control? Meanwhile the Mazzagattis continue to unravel as Mikey (aka Elasticator!) falls further from grace. Gang raids, pissed-off cops, drug-enhanced rats, and much more take center stage in this action-packed issue!
I have to say that I’m wowed by the progression this story is taking. I mean the story of Mikey’s life starting at his arrest and going back to when his life changed and his current path started is full. Full of ups, downs, and everything in between and what A.C. is doing with fleshing not only Mikey out but the people around him so that we are getting the bigger picture of how their world actually is has thus far been amazing. I love seeing both sides of the coin being presented to Mikey here. His home life sucks, parents fighting, him and his dad will never get along and how he feels is clearly evident but by the same token Tiggy and how he sees him well that’s more powerful than I could have imagined.
I like that this series is taking it’s time getting the story told. We are seeing Mikey go from moving in to graduating from High School here and all the while it’s some of the best all around world/character building writing around. I mean it’s hard to set up a story like this, move all the pieces into place and demonstrate how they move around the board. A.C. is doing this in what I feel is the right way. No wham bam there we are this is it instead it’s a nice slow boil as we see what we need to to learn the way things here work.
The gang’s leaders are all pieces on the board and the cops well they seem like nothing more than pawns in a chess game no matter how much they’d like to think otherwise. Though our two interrogators seem to be more valuable thanks to this issue and that’s good to see. We also see someone who thinks they are the grandmaster in all this and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with his power plays and if it all comes crashing down around him. From what we see of him and those around him he’s overconfident and that’s a dangerous position to be in.
Mikey is probably one the greatest character finds of this generation. He’s got all the hallmarks to make a stellar hero or a villain depending on what he wants to do. There’s tragedy and strife at home but he’s got support and belief in him to raise above his station from the very figure who brought him into all this. It’s a great dichotomy on display and the way it’s being written in the dialogue really took me by surprise by how much it made me feel.
Kevin and Ross give the interiors this simple complexity that I’m also pleasantly surprised by. I mean it’s kind of on the cartoon side but then again it’s got these incredible moments of intensity that really stand out. Plus there’s one moment when a lab is raided that really goes above and beyond what I thought I’d see here and it just highlighted how talented they are. Plus I’m really liking Kevin’s eye and the way he is able to use pages and panels to get the flow of the flow of the story. There’s some great innovation in what he does here.
With violence, adult language, and situations this really is the kind of story where you can’t help but be drawn into this world. Solid beyond what’s expected this will change your opinion of folks who can and cannot rise above their station.