Review: Elk Mountain #1

After a successful Kickstarter, we check out Elk Mountain #1 by Jordan Clark, Vince Underwood, Brittany Peer and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou which tells the story of the worlds greatest superhero and the relationship he has with his town and the people in it, and what happens when he is no longer there. Can this comic make it up, up and away onto comic shelves or will the reign of this particular Superman be short lived?

Publisher: J. Clark Comics
Writer: Jordan Clark
Artist: Vince Underwood (Artist), Brittany Peer (Colorist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letterer)
Price: $6.99 at Jordan’s Online Store

Elk Mountain is the home of Valor, the world’s greatest superhero. It is also a small town which is a sanctuary to all who fear persecution and mistreatment. Not matter what Valor must do in the wider world to save it, his first priority is always the safeguarding of his home and those within it – a decision that has led to his contention with government leaders. However, when an alien foe’s last ditch attack results in Valor’s apparent death, his former rogue’s gallery band together to take over their vanquished nemesis’ home. Now, with their protector gone, the people of Elk Mountain must band together to protect their hometown and show that you don’t have to be super to be a hero.

Jordan Clark has penned a fun and compelling story within the pages of Elk Mountain as he tells a story of a Superman analogy and the impact this hero’s actions have on those closest to him. Clark has written a story with a very political subtext, of which the message is made perfectly clear from the outset and reinforced once the issue delivers its cliffhanger; don’t judge others for their differences and if you see someone in trouble don’t expect others to fix it, step up! As such, Clark seems to set up his position really well in this issue with terrific characterisation of all his core characters. Valor, for instance, gives off a perfect Superman vibe but without feeling like a carbon copy of the famous character. Valor is his own man and, unlike the more famous Man of Steel, feels a lot more three dimensional with his political views which counter his governments as well as hints of an underlying anger, which subtly appears during dinner with his parents.

Meanwhile, the rest of the cast are equally well written. While sometimes not with as much depth as Valor, they do feel incredibly three-dimensional within a short (although extra sized) time. There is a sense that they are each about to face a real physical and emotional journey, particularly Mayor Sandoval, when their viewpoints are tested when the question is put to them; what happens when the one you rely on to protect you is no longer there?

Of course, not all the characters come across perfectly. The cast of rogues, while distinct in appearance, all seem rather generic to each other as really as seem cheesy and clichéd. That said, they do come across as fun with a silver age flair and serve their purpose in the story very well. However, this, like the Trump reference dating the comic, are minor niggles and nothing compared to the spoiler-ish reveal at the cliffhanger which might affect the remainder of the story by removing the focus of the Elk Mountain inhabitants that the issue had been seemingly building up.

Meanwhile, artistic team Vince Underwood and Brittany Peer produce a stellar turn in the visuals for this issue. The art is without a doubt sublimely gorgeous. It lookS smooth and clean and when combined with the colour palette has a really unique look. It resonants Wonder Twins artist Stephen Byrne’s unique style at times, although their’s seems to come across as a more hopeful impression due to a brighter aesthetic. A common example of this is Valor himself, who multiple times through the issue looks incredibly superheroic as the panels show the character in a real beauty that makes you hope for more of the same as you read on. Thankfully, this appears to be something Underwood and Peer are happy to provide as the issue maintains this consistently high quality almost all the way throughout, save for one panel after the villains’ ‘night out’ which appears to slip and look rougher than the rest of the issue. Although given what the panel is portraying this could have been a deliberate choice.

Elk Mountain #1 is a seriously well written and beautifully produced comic issue which offers a slighty different slant to the standard superhero comic. While also asking deeply profound questions to its audience about who we are as a people in a very direct but engaging way. Clark, Underwood, Peer and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou have put together a seriously high quality comic which could match many bigger name comics in aesthetic while also offering a status quo challenging story that deserves your time to read it.