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The Standard #1

Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2011
By: James Miller

John Lees
Jonathan Rector, Ray Dillon (c), Mo James (c), Kel Nuttall (l)
Comix Tribe
EDITOR'S NOTE: You can buy The Standard #1 in print form from Indy Planet as well as digitally from Graphic.ly.


In the age of reality television and absolute sensationalism, The Standard is deeply relevant.††Iíll be honest, I donít have a TV. I donít watch TV, and I donít want to.†Sometimes I forget why.†One night at the gym I was running on the treadmill and there were eight big screen TVs flashing away in front of me. On four of them were various "reality" TV programs, there was a documentary on ďAncient Alien Astronauts,Ē and some show involving a creature called the "Snooki."

The Standard is also an interesting twist to the old superhero/sidekick dynamic:† what if the superhero, who stands for truth, justice and all the rest of it, retired and the sidekick took his place?†But rather than standing up for truth, justice and everything else, the sidekick decided to represent hype, product placements and the almighty dollar? Sure, heíll still find and catch the bad guys, but only while heís brandishing the logo of his greatest sponsor.†Heíll stop crime, but only so long as the cameras are rolling.†And if there are no more bad guys left to fight?†The studio will figure that part out, just keep that charming smile aimed at the camera and the witty one-liners coming.

The sidekick gets more and more frustrated with the studio that affords him his charmed life.†His agent is his only friend, and even he seems to only be there for the sensationalism.†The sidekick is haunted by the fact that even with his amazing powers, fame and wealth, he canít find a missing girl. All that unbelievable power and still he canít find her. After being honored for being such a shining example to the human race, he realizes the same thing I did while watching all those TVs at the gym: itís all bullshit.

His fame is fake, his honor false, and his heroism nothing more than a diversion for people in their mundane lives.† Thatís where things get interesting.

While reading The Standard I found myself drifting a little, the story, while good at setting up its world, can be a little dry, the storytelling a little erratic.†At times it pays homage to the Golden Age of superhero storytelling and then reverts to a Heroes voiceover style of narration.† Overall it does a good job of building the characters involved with only a few frames each and it drives the story along to a surprising and satisfying finale.†

Artistically The Standard is ok. Itís done well and suits the storytelling well, but there are a few issues throughout the book. Most of it is minor stuff like the proportions of some of the characterís fists isnít quite right compared to their bodies, and the perspective in a few frames doesnít make sense.† But unless youíre really paying attention, you wonít really notice that.† I think the art that bothered me the most was a series of frames on a single page that cut from telling a story about one of the adventures of the original Standard, and the new one.†It was difficult to follow.†Maybe putting a simple desaturation filter over the frames of the ďoldĒ Standard would help to break that up.
††
The Standard is a good read, though it does drag a bit through the middle.†Stick with it, itís worth it.†One of the things I look for in any sort of entertainment is what I call ďThe Payoff,Ē and thatís something that this story indeed has.†Think about this story the next time youíre watching Jersey Shore.



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