Indie Comics Spotlight: Hero Hourly #1, Street Fighter x GI Joe #, and Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Hero Hourly #1

1

“Hey. I’m Saul. That’s me getting hit in the face.”

Comics have taught us that superheroes have to bring with them a series of specific traits that make them capable of saving the world on multiple occasions. There are all sorts of cliché about the notion, but few of them look at being a hero as a “job” as opposed to a calling. Hero Hourly #1 from 21 Pulp is just that. The issue is written by James Patrick, penciled/inked by Carlos Trigo, colored by Alex Sollazzo, and lettered by Ed Dollman.

Welcome to Hero Hourly! If Saul thought that working as a superhero would be any different than asking if you want fries with that, he was mistaken. Now he has to deal with bad pay, passive-aggressive bosses, and work politics. Well, we all have to start somewhere…

It’s getting harder and harder to come up with superhero tales that feel fresh, but bogging superheroes down in the minutia of daily life seems to be an approach that a lot of writers are taking. That tedium is what Patrick relies on in Hero Hourly #1 to make it feel so fresh. Saul is presented as a character with seemingly everything going for him, which includes great job prospects and a massive ego to go along with them. His “fall” is that much more entertaining because of the characterization, as Patrick essentially commoditizing the superhero profession and is forced into a role akin to that of an entry-level position. The way the first issue is structured blends together narrative and information in a way that affords Patrick some flexibility in terms of the tone.

The characters in Hero Hourly #1 boast sharp angles and strong features. Trigo’s style is a blend of superhero and caricature that feeds into both aspects of the comic very well. Every character is filled with a sense of arrogance that falls into place with Saul’s general smugness about everything and adds another layer of humor to an already funny issue. The panel layouts are largely presented in a standard grid format that keeps the action moving along cleanly. Sollazzo’s colors are bright and vivid, providing superheroes in a standard yellow uniform that pops off the page.

Hero Hourly #1 is a fantastic first issue that offers a great new look at the appeal (or lack thereof) of being a superhero. Too many superhero tales stress the “importance” of being a hero (Deadpool anyone?). Hero Hourly #1 looks at the concept as more of a necessity. Patrick’s script is very self-deprecating of the industry as a whole and is pretty damn funny. Trigo’s artwork is a great fit that furthers the relatively lighthearted tone of the book. Hero Hourly #1 is quite frankly a lot of fun and a huge breath of fresh air for an industry dominated by capes and tights.

Hero Hourly #1 is available now.

Street Fighter x GI Joe #1

2

“Do what we paid you to do: win at all costs.”

Street Fighter has a way of maintaining a grip on popular culture. G.I. Joe feels like it’s never left, despite having its heyday way back in the 80s. Join the two up though as IDW Publishing does in Street Fighter x GI Joe #1 and you’re sure to get more excitement than you can handle. The issue is written by Aubrey Sitterson, illustrated by Emilio Laiso, colored by David Garcia Cruz, and lettered by Robbie Robbins.

On a hidden island in international waters, 16 combatants enter a secret tournament…one that pits Street Fighter vs. G.I. JOE! M. Bison and Destro have joined forces, and taking them down will require the world’s finest warriors: Ryu, Snake Eyes, Guile, Scarlett, Chun-Li, and Duke.

Universe mash-ups are always a good time and Street Fighter x GI Joe #1 is no exception. Sitterson blends them together in the traditional Street Fighter way in that Bison and Destro are overseeing the characters in a fighting tournament. The thing about the plot, though, is Sitterson is a little hazy when it comes to why exactly the two universes are being pitted against one another. Bison and Destro seem to have ulterior motives (as they always do), but the pairings for the battles seem a little random. That’s not say that Street Fighter x GI Joe #1 isn’t enjoyable, as Sitterson clearly knows what makes each character tick and puts them each in battles that are a little unexpected. Because there are so many battles though, the first issue feels a little rushed, as if Sitterson is moving very quickly to get the initial fights out of the way for the grander story implications.

All of the characters in Street Fighter x GI Joe #1 bear easily recognizable characteristics that fans of either universe will have no trouble recognizing. And Laiso also does a fantastic job of handling the fight sequence, imbuing each relevant panel with a sense of kinetic energy. Laiso’s work feels much more mature and less arcade-y than, say, Edwin Huang’s take on Street Fighter, but it’s still remarkably effective. Cruz’s coloring is predominantly darker, emphasizing a contrast between the black shadows and the whitish-blue Hadokens. Robbins does an exception job with the lettering, giving brief dossier’s of each character in a computer-style font while also adding in plenty of sound effects for good measure–he even works in the familiar “KO” font for fight finishes!

Street Fighter x GI Joe #1 is a lot of fun. Seeing characters from each universe go up against one another is pretty enjoyable. Sitterson does a great job of pairing the combatants up in a way that every match feels fair, despite certain abilities one side may have which might give them an unfair advantage. Laiso’s artwork feels mature and looks to draw more upon the G.I. Joe style of things, adding a certain level of realism to the work. Street Fighter x GI Joe #1 is the latest entrant in the mash-up competition that feels a little strange at first, but once you settle in you come to realize you’ve been missing it the entire time it wasn’t there.

Street Fighter X GI Joe #1 is in stores now.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1

3

“Maybe they all ran away to join the circus.”

Hellboy has been called many things throughout his career (both good and bad). And he’s done good things and bad things en route to being named accordingly, but you’d be hard-pressed to think he’s doing anything bad in Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson, penciled by Paolo Rivera, inked by Joe Rivera, and colored Dave Stewart.

A mysterious creature hunts the children of an idyllic suburban town and the BPRD get more than they bargained for when their investigation begins to seem strangely familiar.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1 plays out much like many other tales in the Hellboy universe in that Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. are tasked with investigating a mysterious entity terrorizing an otherwise idyllic town. Mignola and Roberson certainly don’t stray too far from this formula, but in Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1, the story feels a bit more intimate. Hellboy is characterized as somewhat well-known, yet Mignola and Roberson don’t present him as so much a rock star. Because the characters are fairly familiar, the writing duo can spend more time focusing on the story itself which is pretty interesting. The pacing is very methodical and slowly works up to a reveal at the end that sets the tone for the duration of the series.

Hellboy’s very distinctive look is handled well by Rivera, rendering him as a somewhat scrawnier version of himself. His smaller size makes him seem more vulnerable, even if fans of the series know that Hellboy is more than capable of destroying the world if he really wanted to. Other characters are illustrated with a 1950s sensibility that’s befitting of the series’ title. Panels are laid out pretty cleanly and accented by empty gutters, all of which adds a scrapbook feel to Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1. Rivera’s inks are subtle yet effective, while Stewart’s colors evoke a strong sense of familiarity with the property.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1 is another solid entry in the Hellboy universe. It focuses on Hellboy at a younger point in his life, before he’s gotten a chance to make more of a name for himself. Mignola and Roberson have crafted an issue that’s very seamless and easy to read, giving a pretty monstrous twist at the end. Rivera’s pencils are very clean and simple, effectively capturing the atmosphere of the era. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1 will appeal to fans of the property as well as those looking for an interesting book about chasing monsters.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1 is in stores now.


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