Indie Comics Spotlight-Super Secret Crisis War #1, The Goon One for the Road, The F1rst Hero #1


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Super Secret Crisis War #1


“Hey Buttercup! There’s a villainous horde on the way! Toss me some more heroes!”

Behind every great hero is a great villain. More often than not, that villain is soundly defeated at the hands of the hero and time marches on. Sometimes, though, that villain gets the idea to team up with other villains against multiple heroes. It’s in those moments that things sometimes seem a little bleak for the heroes. It’s also those moments that massive crossovers are generated in comic universes, such as Super Secret Crisis War #1 from IDW. The book is written by Louise Simonson, illustrated by Derek Charm, and lettered by Tom B. Long.

Aku has decided that a few supervillains are better than one, teaming up with Vilgax, Mojo Jojo, and Mandark to form The League of Extraordinary Villains. Their goal? To collectively do what they all can’t do individually: capture Samurai Jack, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter and Ben 10. Their plan entails a lot of sinister scheming with ideas that aren’t actually quite as crazy as they sound. What’s more, their machinations spread throughout the Cartoon Network universe, even interfering with the lives of Ed, Edd, N’ Eddy.

Most crossover events are far from accessible for the average reader, but Simonson capitalizes on the characters being fairly cut-and-dry to not have to worry about that. All of the characters are either “good” or “bad” and it’s readily apparent when you read as to who’s who. That makes Super Secret Crisis War #1 that much more enjoyable because you’re not wading through histories of character backstories. And you don’t have to be a Cartoon Network savant to fully grasp what’s going on in Super Secret Crisis War #1, something that makes the book very accessible. Simonson infuses the script with a great sense of humor and light tone that doesn’t bog it down in drama, making for an extremely enjoyable read.

Shows on Cartoon Network definitely have a look to them and Charm captures this look perfectly. That’s not to say all shows are illustrated exactly the same way, but Charm brings a unity to all the characters that makes it feel as if they could be. For instance, Ben 10 looks the most “human” of all the characters, but Charm illustrates him in a way that doesn’t make him stand out as such. The book is bursting with color as well, used as a way to emphasize action in a way you’d expect to see on the relevant cartoons. Charm’s style is extremely effective at reflecting Simonson’s pace of the book at that moment, helping to keep the reader engaged.

For a big crossover book, Super Secret Crisis War #1 certainly doesn’t feel like one. All the characters involved are familiar faces to even casual readers and their roles are so outlandish that you can’t help but feel entertained. Simonson gives the script a lot lightheartedness that reads very quickly and offers pure entertainment. Charm’s art is clean and bold, effectively bringing together all the different characters in a way that makes them feel like they’ve been together for years. Super Secret Crisis War #1 is one of those books that is just a lot of fun to read and will lead to a series (and one-shots) that cover the Cartoon Network universe.

Super Secret Crisis War #1 is in stores now.

The Goon: One for the Road (One-Shot)


“Well, no luck here. Three beers, bar back!”

Ever find yourself out on one of those nights where you can’t really remember anything that happened? Fighting followed you from bar to bar, even as you were trying to help a new friends. If you’re The Goon, you’re more than capable of handling yourself, especially when you’ve got your trusty friend Franky with you. Dark Horse Comics tells that tale in The Goon: One for the Road (One-Shot) written and illustrated by Eric Powell and colored by Dave Stewart (and a tribute cover by Jack Davis).

Goon and Franky meet a sailor from Georgia who’s on the hunt for his buddy, Harvey. The trio (Georgia included) decide to hit every bar they can think of looking for him, but trouble ensues when the trio go bar to bar in genre-hopping pursuit. There’s a lot that can happen when you order three beers per bar and hit double-digits in the number of bars. And there’s a ton of mad happenings in play for Goon and Franky.

Pub crawls aren’t exactly the most exciting things by the end of the night, primarily because you’re too drunk to really understand what’s going on. That’s fine, though, as it still leads to some really great stories. Goon and Franky’s escapades looking for Harvey are deftly written by Powell, moving them from one bar to the next. But the reason it works so well is because it’s just crazy enough to be both crazy and true for the characters at the same time. And Powell definitely pulls out all the punches, returning to characters he’s extremely familiar with and content to putting them in situations that test their easygoing personalities.

The Goon has always had that nostalgic, 1920s look to it and Powell doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The characters bear their trademark caricature style that affords the book some sense of humor and adds levity to their plight. Powell throws Goon right in the thick of some heavy battles that are illustrated with a lot of fighters and combat smoke. His take on a group of famous historic characters also bear the same style, providing a break of sorts amidst the otherwise “mundane” bar crawl. Stewart’s colors are washed out and fairly close to the newspaper finish that Sunday comics are most known for, again keeping the book in a certain era.

The Goon: One for the Road (One-Shot) is just what the title intends it to be: a book that you read with no requirements to get attached. It’s something of a shame, seeing as how it was quite enjoyable and most people would love to read an ongoing series about Goon and Franky barhopping. Powell feels completely comfortable with the characters and puts them in situations that are both believable for them and pretty exciting. His art maintains the iconic look that the series has become known for, presenting a pretty sarcastic drawing style that promises to deliver on entertainment value. The Goon: One for the Road (One-Shot) is a book that reads as fun as you would imagine the characters are having in their misadventures.

The Goon: One for the Road (One-Shot) is in stores now.

The F1rst Hero #1


“What’s at stake here is nothing less than the safety and security of the human race.”

People fear the unknown. Whenever you take them out of their comfort zones, there’s something of an uneasiness that forces them to want to retreat back to the familiar. That retreat is often done at the expense of progress and if there ever is a case where people are shown to have superpowers, it’s expected that those without won’t react very well. Then again, if those with powers go insane as they do in The F1rst Hero #1 from Action Lab Entertainment, then it’s likely no one will react well. The book is written by Anthony Ruttgaizer, illustrated by Phillip Sevy, and colored/lettered by Fred C. Stresing.

Thanks to an assassination attempt on the President, the world knows there are those among them who carry superpowers who become known as Extrahumans. The thing is, those superpowers prompt the bearer to go insane and become a threat to society. Jake Roth is a soldier who finds out in dire circumstances that he also has those powers and is forced to reconcile keeping both them and his sanity. Ultimately, Jake is faced with the decision to keep them under wraps and save himself or risk hurting those around him by using the powers.

It’s easy to write off The F1rst Hero #1 as something of an X-Men clone and in some ways you wouldn’t be far off. The main crux behind The F1rst Hero #1 is that there are those with superpowers who have been outlawed and when powers manifest, it’s very trying for the host. Ruttgaizer seems content to leave the X-Men comparisons at that though, as he fills the rest of the book with rhetoric on the ugliness of war on foreign soil. Jake is a soldier whose liberating talents aren’t welcome and Ruttgaizer puts him through the normal kidnapping paces. Presenting the dilemma to him where he must decide whether or not he can really control his powers is intriguing and offers a thought-process behind questions such as, “If you could fly, where would you go?” There’s a larger concept at play as well, in that it’s not entirely clear if everyone with powers really is going insane or if it’s just that the government is worried about them doing so.

There’s a good amount of attention paid to detail artistically, with Sevy transporting the reader to a town in the throes of “freedom.” The environment looks sufficiently challenging for Jake and the characters effectively react to gunfire and urban combat. However, there are some panels where Jake looks a little under-illustrated and his emotion at the time doesn’t quite translate to the page. The transition between powers on and off is pretty deftly handled by Sevy, a transition further accented by Stresing’s colors. The colors in the book skew military, with greens and browns pervasive throughout, but there are some instances where reds and oranges break up that palette.

On first read, The F1rst Hero #1 doesn’t really seem to tread new ground when it comes to powers blending in with society. And with superhero films all the rage, there seems to be a growing trend toward grounding them in some sort of sense of reality. What Ruttgaizer seemingly hopes to capitalize on is a greater sense of self-purpose and one’s place in a world that doesn’t seem to want to embrace change. The art style is reminiscent of some books in the 80s and Sevy offers up characters who look convincing as they go insane. There are some rather existential, identity crisis themes throughout The F1rst Hero #1 that could get pretty deep if the creative team pursues them over the course of the remaining three issues.

The F1rst Hero #1 is slated for release in August with two covers. Lee Moder cover will be $3.99 for 32 pages (order with Diamond code JUN14 0756) and the Jamal Igle (limited to 1500 copies (order with Diamond code JUN14 0757) is priced at $4.99.

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