Morning Glories. 27. Who is Jake Ellis? Skullkickers. Infinite Vacation. And now, The Intrepids.
These books are all sell-out hits from Image Comics, who seem to be becoming the go-to publisher for interesting and unique action/adventure comics that are just a little bit more thoughtful or intelligent or just plain different but are still tremendously fun comic books.
In some ways The Intrepids might be the most unexpected sell-out of the new Image Comics. After all, it’s written and illustrated by two completely unknown creators working on their very first full-scale comic book. It contains a set of characters who have never been seen before. And it features artwork that’s reminiscent of Paul Grist and Darwyn Cooke rather than the seemingly slicker big-time artists.
But, in other ways, this book is a natural comic to sell out. It’s a fantastically fun thrill-ride featuring giant monsters, thoroughly evil villains, a very close-knit family of heroes, and some wonderfully gorgeous artwork.
And this comic starts with a terrifically exciting first few pages. Remember how Morning Glories #1 starts with an interesting mystery and never let you go till the issue was over? Wiebe and Kowalchuk do the same thing in this comic. After a short one-page prologue to establish character, readers are immediately thrown into the middle of a hard-fought gun battle somewhere in Russia.
Fantastic storytelling, forced perspectives and effective establishing shots tell the reader everything they need to know to make sense of the battle right from the first two-page spread. Few creators take the time to do this sort of establishing work these days; fewer still keep the establishing work exciting and fun. By creating the setting right at the beginning of the scene, Kowalchuk allows the reader to be able to track the battle in his head. The reader always has a sense of where characters are in relation to each other and in relation to the camp, and that all works to build suspense when the giant purple cyborg polar bear appears.
Yes, I know you’re tired of reading stories with giant purple cyborg polar bears and so am I. But let me tell you, this is a giant purple cyborg polar bear story with a difference. Okay, I’m being a little silly here, but isn’t it fun to read a story where a giant purple cyborg polar bear is a real threat to our heroes? And isn’t it great that this story is drawn in a way that makes the bear feel both silly and like a serious threat?
It’s a threat created by the evil Mutovin, but the Intrepids are there to stop it. The Intrepids, who aren’t even sure they like that nickname, are a motley group of men and women who fight evil throughout the world. They all have minor super-powers, but their powers aren’t the only thing that motivates them. There is evil in the world, so they must be intrepid in their attempts to defeat the evil.
I really enjoyed the heck out of this comic. Wiebe’s story is a lot of fun, but I was especially impressed by the art of Scott Kowalchuk. He really seems to be channeling Cooke or Grist in many panels, suffusing his panels with an animated-style darkness that’s especially effective for this sort of material. Even more exciting for this long-time comic reader, Kowalchuk uses lots of old-style techniques in his art, habits like establishing shots that have fallen a bit out of style. The techniques don’t call attention to themselves, but definitely work well in the context of the comic.
I guess it’s no surprise that this comic sold out. It’s a great combination of old styles and new, of sophistication and pure B-movie fun.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Felicity Gustafson also reviewed The Intrepids #1. Read her thoughts, too!