By Shawn Perry
Boy have I missed saying that! It’s been seemingly a lifetime since I last waxed eloquent about the independent comic scene so without further adieu let’s get to it!
The Hero Business by Bill Walko is an impressive piece of revisionist satire about the comic book industry that centers on a public relations firm that manages the lives and careers of super-heroes. In a nutshell, this book is a well-written commentary on how writers and artists manage the internal reality of superheroes. On a typical day the agents have to talk down heroes who have returned from the dead and now have to come to terms with their own convoluted new origins, put out classified ads for vigilantes when their sidekicks die and prescribe prescription medication to aging superheroes that experience what they politely term projectile dysfunction. You know, what Scott Summers takes when he just can’t get his optic beam going.
Hero Business #1 centers on the first day of new receptionist, Parker Jameson, who quickly proves to be a competent and capable member of the team but harbors a big secret. Personally I found Walko’s art style to be a perfect balance for the irreverent tone of the story and I was most impressed by the on-point dialogue that felt true to life both in the advertising sense as well as with geek culture. Mark my words: this book will garner a very strong fan base because of its broad appeal and for that reason I cannot recommend getting on board highly enough. If you’re looking for an appetizer I recommend checking it out here.
Book One of Forward Comix Nowhere Man by Jerome Walford is about as well-drawn and well-written as anyone can ask of a first-timer. In fact, it’s about as strong an effort as you can ask of anyone, period. You might be thinking ‘that’s some kind of high-praise sunshine’ but I dare you to open this thing up and say otherwise. Nowhere Man follows Jack Maguire who, aside from being an all-around badass and an officer of the NYPD, possesses an eclectic assortment of superpowers, including; telepathy, intangibility and… well I am not sure I can say what else because we do not learn the secrets of his origin in book one but it really is a great read! Book one focuses on Jack’s relationship with his partner Rose as well as his precarious role at the 14th Precinct. Jack does the best he can to hide his powers from everyone, even Rose to some degree, but it becomes clear that there is a great deal more riding against him than he realizes.
The dialogue is sharp with Jack and Rose both quickly becoming heroes you want to see victorious and their relationship forms the heart of the book. Walford’s art is something you have to experience for yourself because it is the beginning of an absolutely brilliant career if this work is any indication of things to come. Admittedly, I am a huge fan of hyperrealism comic book art but c’mon, I mean, who isn’t? I digress, the most important critique of any comic book artist should always be how well their art tells the story and Walford’s four-color mise en scene is painstakingly executed from cover to cover with great precision. It is truly no wonder he was nominated for a GLYPH Comics Award for Best Artist and though he did not win that category Nowhere Man did receive the award for best male character. For more information about Nowhere Man as well as the future of Walford’s Brooklyn-based Forward Comix publishing house check out his interview from New York Comic-Con and be on the look-out for reviews of book two and three in upcoming editions of Indie Spotlight.
Bullet Gal by Andrez Berzen is published through Melbourne based IF? Commix and follows a reckless female vigilante named Mitzi who gets drawn into the mysterious world of organized crime-fighting by a well-spoken gentleman named Lee. Mitzi has lived on the streets of Heropa, a fictionalized haven of noir-style gangsters crossed with the caped hero myoths, ever since she was a teenager surviving on nothing but her wits, a couple of paperbacks and her twin star model b 9mm pistols. In the first issue we see her murder a few criminals before encountering the mysterious Lee who introduces her into the realm of slightly more organized vigilante justice.
The first thing that struck me about this book was the art style, which is a unique blend of over-exposed photography and conventional comic book structure that suits the shadowy tone of this well-written series. Berzen takes his characters and story very seriously and it shows through it’s gloomy exterior with razor-sharp dialogue. Mitzi, or Bullet Gal as she will soon be known, has an air of authenticity and compelled rage that is just a delight to divulge in as she pursues justice. While I would like to tell you more this review is strictly focused on the first two issues, which are primarily comprised of our introduction the city of Heropa, but I will titillate you with this one tantalizing piece of information: by the end of the first issue we are introduced to what I have to believe is the first instance of a super-villain modeled after Audrey Hepburn…and yes she’s quite alarming. On that note, earlier this week the Kickstarter campaign for publishing a TPB version of Bullet Gal to be released in North America reached its threshold so be on the lookout for that one next year.
Shawn Perry is a proud geek striving to be here now. He currently resides in East Hartford, Connecticut. Tweet him @thesperry and email him at Shawn.Perry88@gmail.com.