Indie Comics Round-up: Adamant, Copra Versus, The Frogman Trilogy, Whatever Happened To The Archetype?
Our indie round-up this week features a selection of post-modern superhero stories including: golden and silver age inspired time travel heroics in Adamant #1; origin stories from indie arthouse superhero series Copra Versus #1; adult animal action in Dead Canary’s The Frogman Trilogy; and retrospective golden age heroics from Whatever Happened To The Archetype?
Adamant #1 (Loophole Comics)
Our rating: [star rating=”4″]
We regularly grumble on here about the lack of fun and enjoyment in superhero comics, but Adamant is one of those titles which bucks the trend for grimness and grittiness and goes for some good old fashioned superhero and sic-fi action. Fortunately it manages to do this without being cheesy or naff thanks to an original story from Mike Exner III and some slick art choices. Our eponymous hero is thrown forward in time when his battle with the diabolical Dr Alpha causes him to get caught in a collapsing singularity in a particle accelerator. He ends up in the near future where an underground resistance movement have taken on this logo as sign of rebellion and Adamant learns it is led by a familiar face! With each part of the story told with a different artist, Adamant is a real book of two halves. The opening salvo, with art by Ian Waryanto is a fairly trad superhero tale with fairly unassuming artwork. However, when it moves forward in time, so too does the quality of the story-telling. Artist D.C. Stuelpner has a really clean and sophisticated style that allows Exner to create a really fun futuristic world that mixes classic golden age science-fiction (complete with glittering towers and boxy robots) with silver age super heroes, and a modern edge. The colours from Josh Jensen are bright and bold too which helps the story to zing along and despite feeling like it was going to be a very generic tale when Adamant goes into the singularity he comes out in a much more exciting and original world that should sustain interest in this book well into the future.
Purchase Adamant #1 for £0.69 from comiXology
Copra versus #1 (Copra Press)
Our rating: [star rating=”3″]
The first in a series of origin stories for Michel Fiffe’s arthouse Suicide Squad Copra sees us get a look at the early days of the charismatic ‘brain-in-a-jar-with-stick-on-eyes’ villain known as Dy Dy. Fiffe’s Copra is a quirky and unconventional superhero story with a raw arthouse energy that made it one of our favourite books in recent months. Unfortunately this spin off doesn’t quite manage to continue that distinctive feel. With Copra, Fiffe created a fantastic roster of peculiar villains who were all about style and design, rather than substance, and so adding a back story to them actually waters down their appeal rather than increase it. It also doesn’t help that it’s heavy on narrative with Fiffe deploying a unique approach of dividing each page into a set 8 panels, and then tinting each panel with a colour rather than go for a traditional colour sheme. This regimented approach gives it a really strong sense of design and a very unique look, but with it’s reliance on a lot of caption-based exposition and a repetitive layout it makes the book a heavy read that lacks the usual beats we are used to even with more arty comic books. Fortunately, if you are a long time fan then there is enough goodwill remaining from the main series and Dy Dy is a unique and original enough character that this left field approach does not take anything away from your enjoyment of Fiffe’s main series. However it is a shame that this new series is not expanding the kind of different and exciting directions we have become used to from the main series.
Purchase Copra Versus. Dy Dy for £0.69 from comiXology
The Frogman: trilogy (Dead Canary Comics)
Our rating: [star rating=”4″]
If you imagine Deadpool written by some filthy-minded Brits, then you get somewhere close to Dead Canary’s Frogman. It features the same irreverence and fourth-wall breaking humour of the Merc With A Mouth, but with more masturbation and anal sex jokes (and some inter-species encounters that would make Howard The Duck blush). Writers Mark Lewis and Matt Fitch have created a really enjoyable, albeit very NSFW, superhero tale which features a well-judged mix of self-aware humour (including parodies of Death of Superman, Knightfall, vintage Spider-man and Spawn) alongside post-modern superhero action. Frogman is more than your average superhero, or should that be less, as he is pretty rubbish at the hero thing and at one point crime actually goes down when he disappears! The Frogman Trilogy gets off to a fairly average start, with a rather generic opening chapter which introduces the origin of Frogman as well as giving us a glimpse into the kind of humour ahead as he takes on the evil Tax Man after an encounter with a prostitute. However with volume 2 (Frogman Returns) the series really kicks into a higher gear thanks to artist John Aggs, who has a 90s Wildstorm/J Scott Campbell style to his artwork (albeit with a much saucier edge than Danger Girl and co.). It’s supremely slick and allows Fitch and Lewis to really cut loose, making jokes about improved budget and quality of artwork while Frogman broods moodily on skyscrapers Batman-style before hunting down a particularly unpleasant looking Swamp Thing-esque amphibian killer who is framing him. Finally, volume 3 is perhaps the most surreal, and the most explicit, as Frogman is ‘killed’ by an evil squirrel monster (who goes on to have a very smutty relationship with Frogman’s workplace crush) and is sent to hell where he has to have sex with the devil in order escape. Lewis and Fitch really revel in the squalor of Hell and make Lucifer particularly disgusting (and so Frogman’s escape is rather stomach churning) and the artwork from artist Gibson Quarter is both eye-popping in terms of quality, but also quite eye-opening in terms of rudeness! If you’re a fan of books like Man Vs. Rock then you will definitely love Frogman, and while the humour may not be for everyone (especially anyone expecting a family-friendly superhero adventure!) it has an anarchic energy and a crude comix-esque sense of fun that manages to take the over-saturated superhero genre and inject a sense of really filthy humour into it (Whatever you do, just don’t read it on public transport on polite company as you’ll have a lot of of awkward explaining to do – you have been warned!)
Purchase The Frogman Trilogy from comiXology for £3.99
Whatever Happened To The Archetype (Insane Comics)
Our rating: [star rating=”3″]
We all love a a good superhero tale, but rarely are they told from the perspective of a retired hero reminiscing about his past. Well, in Stu Perrin’s Whatever Happened To The Archetype, we get just that idea as the titular hero ponders back on his origin of gaining powers and fighting evil. Christopher Quin is a young man from the planet of Arcadia who, upon leaving his home in the hopes of finding his long lost brother, winds up crashing on planet Earth in war torn London. Now, stranded on a distant planet, Quin is recruited by the British government to become the Archetype, one of many powerful superheroes recruited to go and wage war on the Nazis. Despite this feeling like a relatively fresh way of telling a familiar story this first issue struggles to showcase the idea to it’s full potential. It ends up as a rather slow burn story, that moves forward at a relatively limited pace, which, combined with a very wordy script, and speech bubbles appearing constantly in every panel, makes for a rather challenging read. It’s a shame because the art really works in the title’s favour with an incredibly detailed, photo realistic art style reminiscent of the old Dan Dare newspaper strips, (which works brilliantly when introducing both Arcadia and war torn London). We hope that future issues manage to build on this strong premise and go up, up and away, rather than disappear from readers interest.
Purchase Whatever Happened to The Archetype #1 from the Insane Comics Store