The newest installment of Captain Stone is Missing, aka the Digital Comic of the Year 2012, has hit the Madefire app and not only is it another bleeding edge example of what the motion comic app can produce, but it features this little website on the cover alongside artwork from the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz! This latest episode, (it feels wrong to call it an issue!) delves further into the back story of the Captain, and his subsequent fall from grace with writers Liam Sharp and Christina McCormack managing to completely enthral without much happening beyond exposition.This is all down to some truly innovative uses of panel design from Sharp that help develop the story. Perhaps the best example of this being an intense chat show interview with Captain Stone (aka Flint Clayton) discussing his recent unmasking and sees panels appear in sequence along the bottom the page alternating between Flint and his interviewee. Not to be out done Sharp manages to outdo himself later in the episode with an ultra-smart news report scene which sees dialogue appear on alternate sides of a split-screen to represent a TV news anchor talking to his roving reporter.
Reading this feels like experiencing Frank Miller’s dazzling inventive 18 panel pages from Dark Knight Returns for the first time again and deserves to be held in the same regard for digital comics as Miller’s work was for print. We’ve often bemoaned the inability of motion comics to truly capture dialogue heavy scenes with the same vibrancy as action scenes, but with Captain Stone Liam and the Madefire guys may well have cracked it and set the bar for everyone else to follow.
With each issue feeling uniquely different thanks to Sharp’s eclectic artistic styles and layout, a harsher critic could argue that not a lot has happened yet in the world of Captain Stone and that what has happened is fairly archetypal (it certainly reads a lot like Ultimates Captain America with its 21st century twist on the patriotic super soldier). However, the more you read, the more you feel Sharp is using those archetypes to make his points, just as Mark Waid does in Insufferable, rather than it being lazy story telling. Without this smart use of identifiable characters they would have to rely on even more extraneous exposition, and so the characters wouldn’t be as instantly recognisable as they are and as such this makes for a much more compelling read that more than deserves its title as digital comic of the year.
Captain Stone is Missing #4 is free to download via the Madefire app