Rich kid Rex Baldwin wants to keep his super powered teleporting bracelets a secret from the wider world, but when he helps stop a bank robbery he gets more than he bargained for in Propeller, a 4-part Hitchcock inspired indie thriller from Ricardo Mo and Alberto Muriel, that concludes this week on ComiXology Submit.
Publisher: Instant Astronaut
Writer: Ricardo Mo
Artist: Alberto Muriel
Price: £0.69/$0.99 from ComiXology
Rex Baldwin has a secret. Thanks to some super powered bracelets (developed by McGuffin-tastic Nazi scientists) he can teleport himself at super speed. He’s chosen not to share this power with the world, but when a trip to the bank results in a robbery he cannot help but take action (as well as help himself to a bag of cash that the robbers leave carelessly lying around!). Unfortunately by revealing his powers to the world (or at least the people in the bank) it makes keeping his secret that bit more difficult, especially when someone begins to blackmail him and the police start investigating the missing money. He also has to keep his best friend and confidante Hud on side, whose own life is suffering as a result of being forced to keep Rex’s secret.
Propeller is a smart mix of Hitchockian thriller and pulp heroics. Writer Ricardo Mo’s intelligent script takes a fairly generic basic premise and turns it into a really absorbing read. After the bombast of the opening bank robbery he chooses to focus on the character development of Rex and Hud, building a believable world around them instead of getting caught up in super powered nonsense. The exposition about Nazi scientists is quickly glossed over and instead we focus on our main characters who have realistic and credible relationships and therefore their actions have real consequences, a refreshing change for this kind of book.
Propeller also has an interesting moral ambiguity to its main character. Rex is not your average hero – quite the opposite – as he uses his new found powers for much more than just saving lives. (Not everyone would put on a cape and fight crime after all!) Although the teleportation bracelets may seem a bit hokey, they are just fantastical enough to make the book interesting, (posing the question of what would you do in similar circumstances?), but they are also just ‘real-world’ enough that the story doesn’t disappear off into a flight of fancy.
Mo’s well crafted story is ably brought to life by artist Alberto Muriel, with a very classic style in the Dave Gibbons mould. His unfussy line work doesn’t detract from the story and gives the whole book a very accomplished and professional feel. His use of monochrome colours (instead of going for mediocre digital colouring) actually helps elevate Propeller above your average indie fare, giving it a film noir/classic movie quality to it which really suits it.
As the story plays out across it’s four issue story arc, Propeller manages to build the tension issue on issue as Rex and Hud attempt to outwit their blackmailer as well as avoid the unwanted attentions of a curious copper. After a strong start with all the various plot lines given equal weighting, as the story progresses the personal elements of each character (in particularly Hud’s marriage) are pushed to the side and rushed through at the expense of the action, which is a shame. (And there are a few too many top secret conversations held in much too public venues!) However, this doesn’t stop Propeller from building to a satisfying, if slightly under whelming conclusion, but most importantly one which leaves the characters open for subsequent adventures.