Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dr. K Reviews Chimaera Comics

In the next few posts, I plan on reviewing some of the stuff I got at HeroesCon. However, just before I left for the convention, Chimaera Comics publisher George T. Singley sent me 4 pdf files containing the first two issues of their series Consortium of Justice and Wargod for review.

With these two series, Chimaera Comics is creating a new shared universe of superhero comics that hearkens back to the comics of the 60s and 70s. In this sense, Chimaera shares its m.o. with Flashback Universe and the work that Jim Shelley and Pierre Villenueve are doing there. Chimaera has set up an ambitious project, and getting these series noticed in the glut of superhero comics currently on the market will be a challenge, but both series offer something, while not unique, certainly entertaining as an escapist fantasy in the best way that superhero comics offer. Consortium of Justice and Wargod are also helped tremendously by some really solid art by Marcio Takara and Benjamin Morse, respectively. Both series offer straight-up fun superhero comics, written in an old-school mode but drawn in a more modern style. Takara's art hews closer to a contemporary animation style that normally is not to my taste, but here it works well with the tone of the series.

The Consortium of Justice opens with the destruction of one world at the hand of the Magnate, and the escape of that world’s heroes, The Twilight Men, to a parallel universe that is the villain’s next target. The first eight pages that detail the final moments of this battle between the Twilight Men and the Magnate begins the series in medias res, and that proves to be an effective strategy for getting the reader’s attention. The latter half of that issue, however, loses some of the momentum of the first when it spends most of its space introducing the Immortal and his associates King and Shock. Here, we get some backstory on the “Consortium of Justice,” who “return” in a new form at the end of the first issue.

The first issue launches us into this world with little exposition, as if this were a line of comics that has existed for some time, and we are now involved in a massive line-wide crossover. It is, however, a fully-realized world, and the further exploration of it in issue 2, as the combined Twilight Men and Consortium gather others to join their battle with the Magnate and the Syndicate of Sorrow, establishes just how much potential this world has. These first two issues introduce a lot of characters and concepts, so while keeping powers and identities straight may be a challenge, the payoff as this world develops could be worthwhile.


The writers can skirt much of the exposition by assuming the reader has a level of familiarity with some basic conceits of the average superhero universe, throwing out such concepts as "the multiverse" with no need for explanation. And when the Magnate introduces himself to this world’s organization of villains, the Syndicate of Sorrow, he, as expected, kills the first member that raises questions about his master plan, thus insuring the others' obedience.

Wargod 1, on the other hand, feels more like a standard first issue of a superhero book, with a clear introduction of the main character and his secret identity (though with the other Chimaera books, I find it difficult to pin down the hero’s powers).

Wargod (who is also a member of the Consortium of Justice) is the son of the god Osiris who, like Thor and Captain Marvel, lives on earth in the guise of a human: in this case, Curt Corey, a captain in the Egyptian military. This is a common enough superhero-comic trope that writers Singley and Mitchel can assume enough reader familiarity with it, and therefore move quickly through the character's introduction.

The first issue of this series also begins in medias res with a rather surprising turn of events, and then flashes back to the beginning, where Wargod has a run-in with a new team of superheroes--Heroes United, led by Captain Stellar and Blade-Master. So, once again, Singley and Mitchel introduce a load of new characters, giving the sense that the reader is thrust into a huge superhero universe that has a long history.

Much of the first two issues focuses on Curt Corey's investigation of Heroes United, a new and mysterious new team that has an Authority-like, proactive plan to protect the world. The mystery deepens as the team proves to be less philanthropic than originally thought.

When I say that these books are familiar, I mean that as praise. While the plots we get here are not necessarily new, Singley and Mitchel have managed to capture the feel of the comics of their youth, and they've created a universe with a refreshing level of purity and fun. In addition, I found the clean, dynamic art in each book also contributed to that spirit.

More information on the Chimaera line, including how to order these books, can be found on their website, Chimaera Studios. Thanks again to George T. Singley for sharing the previews of these books.

1 comment:

JimShelley said...

Nice article! And here's something weird, I am working on a Zuda pitch with one of the Chimaera artists. Comics is apparently a very small world. :D