Indie Comics Spotlight – Epic, Triple Helix and Rocket Girl


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Epic #1

“Eric, my friend, I have deduced that your only weakness…is girls.”

Ever wonder if getting superpowers would make you more confident? More capable of handling typical day-to-day situations, such as burning nightclubs, bullying and other incidents? If you’ve got powers you’re on the way up, but you may still have some issues dealing with some of the more mundane things in life, such as talking to girls. It may be painful for those involved, but it makes for great reading in Comix Tribe’s Epic #1. The issue is written by Tyler James and illustrated by Matt Zolman, with art assists by Fico Ossio (pages 27-32), inks by Vic Moya (pages 1-8), colors by Arsia Rozegar and flats by Eric White and Katrina Joyner.

After a freak experiment gives teenager Eric Ardor incredible powers, he does what you would do…he puts on a costume and becomes Epic. Super strength, speed, flight, optic blasts…it’s a fanboy’s dream come true. Unfortunately, he’s just discovered he has one weakness…pretty girls. While most boys his age lose their cool around the hotties, Epic loses his powers. Living in Miami, home to the zaniest super-villains AND the most bikinis per capita in America, it’s gonna be a problem.

As far as origin story goes, Epic #1 is pretty brilliant. James offers a classic superhero origin (science is involved), but he offers it in a very natural and organic way. Eric is a pretty standard high school student, full of mischief and general lack of responsibility; both traits work very well to move him through a chain of events that gives him the superpowers. If that was all the book was, it really wouldn’t be that original. That James exploits the traditional high school boy’s fear of girls as a means of stripping him of his powers is fantastic. It’s a great twist on a classic story that starts off like Spider-man and ends up more like Angus.

Zolman’s art is very strong. It’s a got a classic comic art sensibility to it that is very reminiscent of the earlier books from Marvel. It’s not quite the look of classic X-Men, but it moves pretty effortlessly between the superhero and high school side of things. He does a good job framing the shots and offering up a varied look at the characters on the pages. There are a lot of panels stacked on top of one another–which makes some of the pages very dense–but Zolman ensures that the reader doesn’t get lost in following the dialogue trail. There are some rather awkward looking character poses though that don’t entirely seem natural, but they don’t detract too much from the overall art.

Epic #1 is a very fun first issue that shows a lot of promise. James and Zolman make a great pairing and work really well together, offering up a very evenly-paced tale that features some strong art. It’s a book that feels a lot like Idolized and even Princeless to an extent, in that it’s a pretty exciting book that looks at some stereotypical tropes in a flipped around way. Eric’s life is getting turned upside down and how he manages to reconcile his fear of attractive girls with his superpowers will make for a rather adventurous story. It’s a tried and true superhero story that offers unique perspective on how those powers change the person.

Epic #1 should be available soon.

Triple Helix #1

“Careful Cataclysm. I don’t think that thing is much interested in anything you have to say.”

Ever hear of John Byrne? Old school comic book fans may know him from some work for Marvel and DC way back in the day. Now, he’s making a rather triumphant return to comics with IDW in Triple Helix #1. The issue is written and illustrated by Byrne, with colors by Leonardo O’Grady and letters by Robbie Robbins.

Rock, Scissors, Paper, Apex, Cataclysm, Dart, Javelin and Pylon are the stars of the show here. They’re going up against Golgotha, a familiar villain for fans of Byrne’s work. Summing it up in those two sentences really makes it seem like there’s not much going on, but any more information really sort of gives away the meat. Basically, a lot of talking and fighting happens.

Byrne cut his teeth in the past ages of comic art, but primarily got the attention in the 80s thanks to X-Men and Fantastic Four. That being said, Triple Helix #1 maintains that same look and feel from that time. Reading the book feels like you’re reading an issue of X-Men from the 80s and it’s pretty awesome. Byrne does throw a lot at the reader in the first issue, some of which may be overwhelming. It doesn’t require you do any extracurricular reading so to speak, but it does require some patience and you may have to go over it a couple of times. Byrne drops the reader into the thick of combat, with presumably the world at stake and expects a lot of the reader in terms of keeping up.

The big draw here is going to be Byrne’s artwork. Fans of his work will definitely recognize the work as it looks and feels like his work in the past. Some characters maybe resemble some of the X-Men characters a little too closely, but it’s clear that the book is more inspired by the rather cosmic events of past comics as opposed to X-Men. While it’s easy to say that comic art in general has moved on from Byrne’s style, his art is still iconic that it stands on its own merits. Byrne does a great job with panel framing, offering up a myriad of facial expressions that get full attention from the reader. Classic sound effects appear alongside classic dialogue bubbles really take the reader back to the days of comic book yore.

Triple Helix #1 is a book that is very nostalgic. It goes back to a different time in comics, when stories were cosmic and characters were honed to a razor-edge. Byrne doesn’t spend much time introducing the reader to the characters or the setting, but his work comes off strong enough that the reader can catch up. It’s very bold to drop the reader in the midst of the chaos and ask them to keep up, but since it’s a four-issue mini-series, Byrne has to move relatively fast considering the likely grand ambitions of his work.

Triple Helix #1 is in stores now.

Rocket Girl #1

“I’m 15 years old and a cop from the future.”

Future cops tend to be male, strong and well versed in martial arts of some sort. They’re not typically 15-year-old girls who offer flippant witticisms in the face of authority. In the case of Rocket Girl #1 from Image Comics, that’s exactly what they are though. They do have the martial arts acumen though! The first issue is written by Brandon Montclare and illustrated by Amy Reeder.

Dayoung Johansson has a bone to pick with Quintim Mechanics, a mega-corporation who she views as evil. This, despite the fact that the company has turned New York City (and Times Square) in 2013 into a place full of hover cars, bright lights and all the trappings of the not too distant future. Dayoung’s convinced though that Quintim has manipulated the timestream for their own nefarious gains, prompting her to travel back in time to 1986 to stop them. Oh and Dayoung is a 15-year-old cop from the future, so there’s that.

Montclare definitely gets points for originality in terms of the overarching story. Setting the present in an alternate timeline future offers a new perspective, punctuated by Dayoung’s age and position. It seems that in this world, all cops are teenagers; teenagers who decide to serve justice instead of hang out at the mall. There are a few problems in the script though, mostly around pacing. The story jumps back and forth between the two eras and the readers isn’t really given any more backstory into why teenagers are cops and what Dayoung has specifically against Quintim. It’s possible that future issues will explore these things a bit more, but as a first issue, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

Reeder’s art explodes off the page, appropriately capturing New York City at night. She showcases Rocket Girl in some pretty heroic poses, all of which really stress the fact that clearly Dayoung is more than capable of her role as an officer of the law despite her age. She uses a lot of perspective shots (primarily top down) that give the reader a sense of what it would be like to fly with Rocket Girl for instance. Another shot is from the perspective of a camera observing a conversation, which gives the reader a further glimpse into the “new” 2013. The illustrations feel very clean and well defined, infusing the tale with the vibrancy of the 80s.

A first issue has a lot to take care of and Rocket Girl #1 does that for the most part. The premise is intriguing and the art is dazzling, but there are some story hiccups that slightly hinder character development. Still though, the work is pretty refreshing and offers a different take on the rapidly emerging “teens in trouble” dynamic that’s marching through media. The book feels more like Ender’s Game than Hunger Games though and hopefully Montclare gives more time for Dayoung to develop as a character so the reader can better understand her plight. It’s a good start to what could potentially be an even crazier story.

Rocket Girl #1 is in stores now.

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