ADVANCE REVIEW! The Intrepids #6 will come out on DAY, August 24, 2011.
The covers didn't tell you this, but Kurtis J. Wiebe and Scott Kowalchuk's mad-scientist-battlin' comic book The Intrepids is a six-issue miniseries. It's easy to assume Wiebe wanted to do something similar to his Green Wake, where, if the series was a big enough hit, he could just expand his mini into an ongoing and keep going past the intended concluding issue. Maybe The Intrepids wasn't big enough a hit to sustain for more than six issues at a time, assuming the creators even want to come back for more.
Which is a shame, because I had been buying this book every month and liking-not-loving it. Mostly, I was hoping to see the book evolve as the creative team finds their footing and tries to expand on the pilot episode story arc we got in these six issues. But it turns out it's not an ongoing. Series of miniseries are a different beast altogether -- more crafted and finite, I think (at least from experience -- I'm working on two minis and crafting the shit out of them), than the ongoing serialized narrative, which may take a while to really find its voice. Look at Cerebus (started as a Barry Windsor-Smith riff, then soon became serious art-comics) and TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which only kind of resembles a Joss Whedon show in Season 1, but boy, that Season 2. How about Sandman or Love and Rockets? Both grew much better than they began.
But I'm not going to fault The Intrepids for not being an ongoing. Imagine how I'd slam Hellboy every month!
The best thing The Intrepids has giong for it is its fun retro aesthetic, thanks to Scott Kowalchuk's art, which hits that Darwyn Cooke/Mike Allred register while having its own personality. There's also shades of '60s Kirby in there, bringing back childhood memories of reading early X-Men reprints that didn't even vaguely resemble the convoluted, pouch-riddled stories that were coming out at the time.
Kowalchuk's character designs are particularly great. Each Intrepid -- femme fatale, hulking dude, rocket girl, well-dressed tech guy -- is distinct and identifiable (even in silhouette) and dressed to impress. Most interestingly is the way he draws his women --a healthy kind of buxom, without comedic attention drawn to their size (see: Big Barda). If these women lived in the DCU, imagine the rampant body-image issues! It's a refreshing take on female character design.
Which isn't to slight Wiebe's script, which delivers such gems as a giant robot with a regular man's head, an army of primates and a purple cybernetic bear. And, throughout the series, he's done some very nice character work, particularly with de facto team leader Crystal (the femme fatale), who seems to be the character we're supposed to identify with in all this. There's just some disconnect between the words and the images that keeps me from really getting into it. Kowalchuk's retro art pops and dazzles, but Wiebe's somewhat modern-mindned script doesn't have the same verve to it, as if the whole thing was written before a single page was drawn.
This is why I hope there will be more Intrepids in our future. I like a lot about this book, this first volume almost feels like a Pablo Honey situation where a promising band hadn't yet found its sound. If they revisit these characters, I have a feeling The Intrepids could turn into something really special.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his newest comic, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics.
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