When I was younger, an artist working on a particular comic was a big influence on whether I’d try a new comic book. Of course that trend still influences me, but not like it did when I was a kid. As I got older, and learned that the writer had as much, if not more to do with making a good comic for me, the writer took over that role in influencing my purchases.
Now that I’m what might be considered an adult, I’ve long since quit buying comics simply because of art, instead looking for the whole package. Each part of the comic creation processes plays a part. Even inking and coloring, something that the casual reader might not realize, play a very big part in the total feel of a completed book.
Despite knowing how much each creator contributes to a good comic book, I’m 99% more likely to give a new comic a try if it is written by a writer I like, or is in a genre I like. Today’s review features a comic that has both. Justice Inc, The Avenger is written by one of those writers who I’ve admired for some time. I’m kind of ashamed that I haven’t picked up this book before, because I love the characters and its genre, the pulps. It’s from Dynamite Entertainment, a company that I also love. Dynamite is one of those publishers that brings to you great stories from a ton of different creators and genres. They have carved out a foothold in the industry with quality work. When I saw that Mark Waid was writing the latest installment of the Justice Inc franchise, I had to pick it up.
Waid to me is one of the best comic writers in the business, hands down. His recent track record proves that, with seemingly everything he does getting mass attention and recognition. One of the best things about Waid is his versatility. He is one of the few writers on the market that has the ability to seamlessly move from one genre to another, and write really great stuff. Many writers have their trademarks that kind of let you know who is writing. It’s not a particular thing that you can put your finger on so to speak, so much as it is a general vibe you get from their work.
I compare it to Hollywood directors. Sometimes, when you are watching a movie, it just feels like that director’s work regardless of the material. Call it a trademark, call it style, call it whatever you want, but I think you get the idea. The same goes for comic book writers too. With this in mind, I compare Mark Waid to Steven Spielberg. Both of them have the ability to deliver stories that work within the framework of an amazing variety of genres. I also tend to come away from a Waid comic the same way I come away from a Spielberg movie, entertained, not insulted, and happy for the experience.
In this particular comic, Waid is not the only writer, he is also joined by Christopher Sequeria. While I’m not sure of the division of labor, I didn’t notice a drop off, or a change from what I’ve come to expect from a Waid story. In short, it means Sequeria did a great job too. The art is by Ronilson Freire, and fits the book. Freire has a traditional style of comic art, which to me, means the artist rendered the story not just with dynamic sequential images, but also placed the characters in believable surroundings. That is very important with a period piece like this book, which takes place in the 1930s. Sure, not many readers will know the difference if things don’t look right for the time period, but for those of us who do, it can be a distraction or even a deal breaker if it’s wrong. Freire does a great job of keeping me in the period with his art.
The Avenger is a story about a master of disguise that travels around kicking butt on the sinister threats of evildoers. It has all the trappings you would expect from a pulp story and character. There is mystery, action, and a hint of weirdness, not to mention the amazing that makes pulps stores such a great genre. This issue also gives you a good look into the character’s origin, and is a great place to jump into this series. The Avenger is by far the least well known of the pulp heroes that have appeared in Justice Inc, but he is every bit as interesting as Doc Savage and The Shadow.
My gushing over Mark Waid aside, you need to get this book if you like stories about the fantastic men of the pulps. This genre is so packed with great things, and when done right, as it is here, it is one of the best rides you will have. I for one am looking forward to more of this.