In Imposter, the new book from Hero Hourly publisher 21 Pulp, a police detective discovers the secret identity of superhero the Centipede after a pitched dockside battle and it changes his life forever, bringing together the seemingly disparate strands from the rest of this superbly crafted first issue in ways that you really don’t see coming.
Publisher: 21 Pulp
Writer: James Patrick
Artist: Martin Szymanski (Pencils and Inks) Osmarco Valladao (Colours)
Our rating: [star rating =”4″]
Hero Hourly’s James Patrick is the man at the writing helm of Imposter and he does a superb job of taking familliar events and concepts from classic and contemporary superhero tales to create a really strong ‘What If’ scenario that you could imagine working brilliantly in the Marvel or DC universes.
Unlike the simplicity of Hero Hourly, Imposter has a a bit of Jonathan Hickman feel to it, thanks to a multi-threaded narrative and sizeable roster of characters. The story starts with Detective Hale Barker at his police entrance exam, before moving off the supernatural plane and introducing us to occult sorceror Dr Oculus and then back to the dockside for a bit of classic crime fighting as Hale and the Centipede do battle with the evil Squarejaw Quadruplets and Hale learns the Centipede’s true identity.
Throughout Imposter, the heroes feel very familliar, (from the Batman-like Centipede to Dr Strange-like sorcerer Dr Oculus via jungle adventurer Captain Adam), but they are neccessary archetypes rather than out and out copies and work well in moving the story forward as Patrick doesn’t have to rely on too much extraneous exposition explaining who they are.
With so many ideas and only 26 pages to get this across in, the first issue flits around from story to story very quickly and can be difficult to get a grip on exactly what’s happening on a first read – especially with the seemingly unconnected side stories that only come together at the end. Ideally it could have benefitted from being a few pages longer, or even better a double issue, to really help make the most of the action and further boost the big reveal. However we are sure that once future issues help flesh out the initial concept this will be less of an problem.
With locations and characters that range from dockside crime fighting to outer space via the supernatural plain and a jungle kingdom, artist Martin Szymanski does a fantastic job holding the story together without any noticeable drop in quality as he moves between settings. He has a really classic 70s Marvel feel to his work reminscent of a John Buscema, George Perez, or more recently Insufferable’s Peter G Krause, which gives Imposter a rather classic feel to it, instead of simply having a flavour of the month style. Along with the excellent colouring from Osmarco Valladao and a cover from Mice Templar’s Victor Santos really helps to make it feel like much more than just another wannabe indie superhero book .
If the pay off for Imposter matches the ambition of this first issue then it should be one hell of a read and will only help to further enhance the reputation of 21 Pulp as being one of the most exciting new publishers around!