EDITOR's NOTE: The Regulators will be available April 7th.
So youíre an up and coming comicker. Youíve got a day job, so you toil at night to make your dream of becoming the next Brian Michael Bendis or whoeverís selling the pamphlets this month. Since nobody except your friends are buying your books for your name, why should anybody care about your work? I always think about something Quentin Tarantino said when looking back on Reservoir Dogs. He explained that your first film should practically kick the viewer in the face with your personal style and attitude. Who are you? Nobody. Thatís why you have to turn heads the first chance you get.
While not writer Jeff Loewís debut (in addition to a few anthology appearances, he did a manga-styled story called The Frog Princess), heís still at a stage where he needs his work to draw loads of attention from people, who often donít bother with things that arenít familiar. The Regulators almost--almost--succeeds in this respect.
The cover of the thing unfortunately doesnít bode well for the interior. The hero of the book stands frozen with a smirk and crossed arms (so you know he has attitude) while the characters on either side of him look a bit bored and lifeless. Unless youíre a fan of tattooed guys with weird goatees, thereís nothing that necessarily says ďHey, Iím The Regulators! Come read me!Ē Then thereís that rubbish logo. Inside, however, things quickly look up.
The story of The Regulators is this: the tattooed Paxton Manfreddy (imagine Spider Jerusalem without the personality) is an employee of The Compliance Corps, a company of mercenaries that ensures that United Americas colonies adhere to various regulations. He goes to Mars to investigate the disappearance of a fellow regulator, gets betrayed by the colonists, learns a thing or two about the situation on Mars and is presented with a dilemma: do his morally dubious job or do whatís right?
Itís a nice done-in-one story that would have made for a good Heavy MetalMstyle short story, though at 25 pages it could use a lot of tightening for pacing, considering most of the book is exposition. The characters themselves are a problem, too. I canít really tell you a thing about them save for their occupations and plot functions.
George Todorovskiís art, while rough, fares a bit better than the script. When itís not reminding me of the only good segment from the Heavy Metal film (the one with the taxi driver) thereís a good dose of Paul Pope running through its veins, which is always appreciated. Heís good at backgrounds and expressions while sometimes capable of impressive panel composition. His page composition ranges from competent to questionable--questionable when he changes panel size, making them look superimposed in a way resembling multiple webpages on a computer screen, which is interesting but ineffective. Thereís a promising artist somewhere in Todorovskiís pages. Hopefully some practice will get him there.
Considering how long the script takes to get to the action, Todorovskiís art is surprisingly limp when the laser guns come out. Even stranger is the bookís opening panel, depicting Manfreddy casually sitting with a pair of alien women on beach chairs a safe distance away from one another. The impression I get from the book is that the protagonist isnít necessarily a good guy, so seeing a mercenary keeping his hands to himself when presented with alien women feels like a missed opportunity.
With its story of imperialism, moral compromise, and the fact that it ends with a quote from a 19th century English poet, one gets a sense that Loew is shooting for something bigger, a sci-fi story with themes and a compelling story. He doesnít quite succeed, but the attempt is appreciated.
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