(W) Ian Chase Nichols, (A) Ian Chase Nichols, Chris Campana, Hannibal King, Joe St. Pierre
The Rhode Warrior was first teased at the Rhode Island Comic Con 2014, and two years later her debut issue of the same name is finally here. It’ll be initially available at this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con (November 11-13, 2016), and if the masses are lucky it’ll stay there. The Rhode Warrior #1 has a solid premise, but that is all it has going for it. If creator Ian Chase Nichols expected this book to make a big splash, he might want to put back in the oven for another two years, because as it stands right now this book is nothing but a hodge-podge of half-baked ideas slapped together into 20+ pages.
It’s a shame that The Rhode Warrior #1 falls flat, because there’s actually a good amount of material here with the potential to be good. To start, the titular character is a strong, powerful woman. She isn’t scantily clad and she carries around a powerful mace that would make a Thanagarian swoon. Her costume may be a little too simple, it’s a clean design in the spirit of classic, old-school superheroes. Unfortunately, that’s all the reader really knows about her, which is mostly the fault of the issue’s structure (more on that later). Her abilities are as undefined as her personality. Can she fly? Does she have super speed? Is she nice? Does she have charisma? It’s difficult to embrace a hero when so little is known about them.
The supporting cast, primarily comprised of the local police department, is as varied as their opinions on the Rhode Warrior. Some see her as a public menace, some see her as a guardian angel, and others just don’t know what to think of her. Primarily, three officers are those that Nichols opts to dedicate most of the issue towards. The issue’s structure is peculiar, with the police officers recounting their own personal encounters with the Rhode Warrior. Each experience shapes their opinion, which makes sense in the real world, but from a narrative level it does nothing but muddy the waters. The book’s solicits purport that the Rhode Warrior is a hero, but the actual issue cannot decide if she is or is not. Moreover, the multiple stories and flashbacks makes it near impossible to determine what’s going on in real-time and what isn’t.
The art does this book very little favors. Just a reminder, this book was first announced two years ago, and four artists are credited. Four. Though it is impressive that each is able to handle the pencils, inking, and coloring of their own pages, that’s just about all the praise they deserve. Character renderings are very inconsistent. To clarify, there are inconsistencies by each artist as well as when the different artists rotate on and off. It’s evident, as the book includes a text box on certain pages to indicate when a new artist has taken over. Sure, there are couple fun nods that New Englanders might pick up on, specifically the actual locations in Rhode Island’s capital city, but that does little to redeem the sloppy mess that is this comic.
I’m sure that there is an audience for The Rhode Warrior #1, but it is likely a small, niche group of individuals residing in the 401 area code. And even then, it is unlikely to find readers clamoring for a second issue. It’s a real shame too, as Nichols’ concept has the makings of an interesting, strong heroine. Sadly, with a $10 pricetag, it’s dead on arrival.