We often harp on here about how indie superhero comics need to do something special to really stand out from the crowd. Well, enter ‘Exhibit A’ for how to achieve this as Kickstarter sensation Impossible Jones joins the Scout Comics roster and manages to live up to it’s name, by doing the impossible and making an indie superhero comic as good as anything put out by the Big Two!
Publisher: Scout Comics
Writer: Karl Kesel
Artist: David Hahn, Tony
From the opening page that sees seasonal super villain Holly Daze on the run across the roof tops with a Will Eisner style billboard starring our heroine Ms Jones in the background, then you know you are in for a treat. Writer Karl Kesel and artist David Hahn have crafted a gloriously fun and outrageous new super heroine which mixes classic tropes with post-modern self awareness and a massive dollop of good fun to create an absolutely superb superhero adventure!
This origin story introduces us to the world of Impossible Jones whose powers are a mix of Mr Fantastic/Plastic Man stretchiness, but with the added bonus of a demonic shadow, and a probability shifting ability to achieve the impossible. All of which gives us a really enigmatic lead character who has the ability and the license to get up to anything in order to get her own way. Whether that is transforming her hands into giant guns or freaking out her opposition with her demonic side, the impossible is the every day in this comic. (Howeber, we’ll admit the demonic shadow bit is part of the story which doesn’t entirely make sense, but due to it’s impossible nature, we’re going to go with it for now!)
Her origin follows the well worn trope of getting caught up in a sinister experiment, but it’s of secondary importance to the fun and hyper colour action which goes on for the rest of the story. Jones attempts to find out why her team of fellow burglars left her behind in the lab, while a group of JLA style heroes attempt to look into as well (including a brilliant Rorshach parody called Even Steven who has make sure everything is equal and fair!).
Karl Kesel is best know for working on Harley Quinn and you can definitely see plenty of that attitude and sass here, as well as Jones bending the line between hero and villain – but without it ever going too over the top. As well as the ambiguity and attitude of Quinn, it also hints at a kind of Deadpool-style self awareness deep down, but stops well short of going down that avenue towards 4th wall breaking and OTT in jokes.
Jones’ world is brought to life by artist Hahn who cut his teeth on Batman ’66 and it makes for a sublime team up (and perhaps part of the reason this doesn’t feel like an indie book at all!). It has the style and panache of the Batman: The Animated Series (a perennial high water mark here) but with the spirit and all ages fun of the wonderful Paul Tobin and Collette Cooper’s Bandette (as well as some of the self aware smarts of Futurama, especially in the origin). Instead of the Art Deco styling of B:TAS it has a slightly 90s feel to it, especially in the lettering and logo design from Richard Starking’s Comicraft, and the strong primary colours from Tony Aviña. You could definitely see an advert for this appearing in an old issue of Wizard from the turn of the millennium – and that is meant as a compliment!
Kesel and Hahn are clearly having a blast writing and drawing Impossible Jones and that comes through to the reader. This is one of our key things in comics today and it so much more enjoyable as result. It’s packed full of unpretentious fun, but with enough depth and nuance to it that makes you really root for the character and want to see more. Having read some of the subsequent adventures in the Kickstarter comic earlier in the year then we can definitely reveal that any new readers joining this book via Scout are in for a treat.
Impossible Jones more than lives up to her name and delivers the impossible – a superbly fun and entertaining first issue of an indie superhero comic, that is every bit as good as a Big Two book. Impossible Jones looks set to be one of the most enjoyable and fun superhero comics we will read this year!