Our indie comics round-up has a decidedly super heroic feel this week as we look at 4 unconventional cape books including: all ages British web comic Manchester Nova; explosive muscled up action in Moon Streak; spectacular secret agent adventures in Super Sikh; and the trials of a temp in a super powered office in Action Lab’s Super Human Resources.
Manchester Nova #1-5 (Gnaeus Julius Comics)
Our rating: [star rating=”4″]
Joining the ranks of great British superheroes alongside Captain Britain and Vanguard is Stuart Hawkes’ Manchester Nova – the world’s only superior based in the northwest of England. The short and punchy adventures have a classic throwback feel to the silver age of Lee and Kirby which is a refreshing approach in the current angsty superhero climate. Nova takes on dastardly villains like Stickleback or Sliver the alien robot monkeys, with help from fellow heroes like Boltonator and Devout. The stories are lots of fun, and don’t rely on cynicism or obscure in-jokes and references to make them funny. Although the plot is not particularly in depth, they have a simplicity to them that makes them really enjoyable. The artwork on display is also really rather brilliant and looks like a wholesome Michael Avon Oeming, mixed with the dynamism of Batman Adventures’ Bruce Timm. Manchester Nova manages to soar above above your average superhero webcomic to become something really rather great. With a fantastic all-ages tone it feels like it could grace the pages of a newsstand comic like the Beano or The Phoenix and is a real hot spark to the world of UK superheroes.
Read all 5 issue of Manchester Nova on Stuart Hawkins’ website
Moon streak #1-3 (Guardian Knight Comics)
Our rating: [star rating=”3″]
The first issue of this sci-fi superhero series gets off to an explosive start as super villain blogger Veronica’s day is interrupted when a giant ‘roided up rat creature hijacks a subway near her underground hideout. On the train is the mysterious Project 24 – an equally muscled up super soldier with laser swords who inevitably gets into an almighty scrap with ‘Roid Rat’! It’s an explosive debut for an explosive series and one that looks every bit as polished as those coming from a major publisher thanks to stunning art and colours from Harvey Taliao and Wes Hartman. With a roster of bizarre and wonderful supporting characters (including the brilliant Rap Beat and Boaris who feel like TMNT extras) Moon Streak feels like a throwback to the testosterone fuelled 90s of Cyberforce, WildCATS and any number of Rob Liefeld books (but with less pouches). Just like those 90s books Moon Streak has a slightly confusing and convoluted plot, as people try and chase down Project 24 and a significant event of the end of issue 2 happens that is supposed to give the story an epic scale, but doesn’t entirely make sense. This is then followed up by issue 3 which sees a different creative team produce a stop gap issue that is more like a mismatched buddy book than the super-scale action of the first two issues and makes matter even more confusing. If the writers can work out what this book is trying to be on board Moon Streak could be a lot of fun indeed, because it already looks the part!
Purchase Moon Streak #1-3 for £1.49 pre issue from ComiXology
Super Sikh #1-3
Our rating: [star rating=”3.5″]
Although this may sound like another cape book, Super Sikh is an all-ages spy adventure. Deep Singh is a secret government agent and after a particularly hazardous mission is sent on vacation – but inevitably he gets into just as many scrapes on holiday as he does on active duty. With the infectious energy of a classic Saturday morning cartoon Super Sikh is loads of fun and the James Bond in a turban premise adds some much needed diversity to this traditionally WASP-y genre. Although the main premise of the story is that Deep’s Sikh beliefs helped to make him a better agent, we didn’t really find this improved or developed the story very much. It certainly lacked the kind of insight we recently saw in Joe Glass’ The Pride. On the plus side this relative lack of deep and meaningful moments meant that there was room for plenty of action and humour rather than spiritual contemplation, which made Super Sikh a fun read whatever your faith. What really helps the book stand out though is the stunning artwork from Amit Tayal. It has the kind of polish you would expect from a major publisher and helps fans who might be sceptical of a book like Super Sikh be more willing to give it a try, as you’ll be rewarded with a great read.
Purchase Super Sikh for $6.99 here
Super Human Resources volume 1 and 2 (Action Lab Entertainment)
Our rating: [star rating=”4″]
We’re big fans of humour in our cape comics and there are few funnier than Ken Marcus’s Super Hero Resources from Action Lab Entertainment. Set in the headquarters of SCI (Super Crises International), it’s the first day for temp Tim who’s come to work in the finance department. His orientation tour sees him introduced to an even more eclectic bunch of character than you would expect in your average office. From Zombor the undead receptionist and Manboto the inappropriate robot to the photocopier planning an uprising and Ted’s cubicle buddy Rog who has plans for world domination, it’s a brilliant mix of hilarious characters who make for an incredibly rich story packed full of humour and feels more like a sit-com than a comic. The humour is very broad and rather than go just for the obvious gags about the ridiculousness of superhero-dom, it juxtaposes those larger than life heroes with the tedium of office life (getting the heroes to fill in their expenses on time, or not trash the newly leased jet plane for example!) With the pace of a newspaper strip and at least one great joke per page this makes for a frequently hilarious read, and although the idea of heroes in an office may not be super original (we’ve seen it in Evil inc and Hero Hourly before) it’s done so well that you can’t help but get drawn in and justly deserves to be described as the “Avengers meets the Office”. Volume 1 is a fantastic introduction to the characters and features quirky artwork from Justin Bleep, who has a really expressive style a bit like The Tick with lots of quirky angular poses that is really unique. While the soon to be launched volume 2 has artwork from Armando Zanker and is much more traditionally cartoonish, but still equally expressive.
You can purchase the first volume of Super Human Resources from Amazon, while volume 2 is currently in Previews and will be coming to ComiXology this spring