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IndyStash: June 2016 ‘Big Stash’ Comic Book Box Review

This month I take the reins of writing reviews for IndyStash from Fanbase Press Contributor Erik Cheski, and I take this quite seriously. There are a lot of indie comic creators looking to get their feet in the door, to get noticed. IndyStash is doing a great service to get their names and titles out there, but I also understand that new creators need as much feedback as possible to better themselves and their craft. I will be diligent in finding that balance between helping spread the good word and pushing indie creators to put out their best work through constructive critiques.

Let’s begin, shall we…

Agent Wild #0
Agent Wild is a high-tech, futuristic espionage thriller following Agent (Tabbita) Wild, a whyly who is called back in for another mission, even though her previous mission was a failure. Agent Wild is loyal to her employers, The 12th Hour, who seem to be part of something called The Union – though Earth doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction. Still reeling from the death of her partner, she’s reluctant to get back on the job, but she does. What seems like your run-of-the-mill mission takes an unexpected twist, and then a bigger unexpected twist that cuts to the emotional core of the character. What ramifications will that hold for our hero? Will her loyalty to The 12th Hour pay off in her favor? These intriguing questions are put forth in the final moments of the book.

As creator and writer, Dan Walker has all of the elements here for a good story. There is intrigue, there is action, there is potential for a really intriguing character with a very emotionally potent storyline that is touched upon; however, the world is left a little too vague to get a handle on. Ideas are left too vague to get a handle on. What is a whyly, and what does that mean for Agent Wild? What are her powers? Why does this help/harm her or make her hated/loved? What is The Union or The 12th Hour, and why doesn’t the Earth fall under their jurisdiction? It’s good to leave some things left unsaid, to be discovered, but there was very little clarified. We need enough to believe in this world and that it exists. I need to have a firmer grasp on the rules. The other thing Walker could have easily done to help solidify the emotional storyline was to show us what happened on the previous mission, even if it was in glimpses. Instead, we’re left with vague exposition and too late in the story for it to affect us. Showing rather than telling will always create a stronger catharsis. Walker as artist has a lot of fun with how he panels his pages and how he visually moves his story along. All in all, it was a fun read with potential.

Gritt #1
Gritt is an unorthodox character, which is why I like him. He’s a superhero that seems to be a bit of a jackass. There’s very little story present in Gritt #1; it’s kept very simple. Perhaps a bit too simple. Gritt has to face off with one of his childhood superhero inspirations, Vigor, a war hero. Superheroes here seem to have come from another planet, and Vigor wants to clear out humanity so their race can live here. Gritt, of course, fights for humanity. A lot of pummeling ensues. That’s the gist – which would be just fine. That’s more than enough to sustain an issue if the lead character’s personality is the focus. It really does lean that way. We start with Gritt as a child, a bullied kid with superpowers, which is a great place to start. I’ve never seen this story being told. So, how would someone who was bullied as a child act now? It feels like Max Milne really wants to explore this, but he doesn’t quite dig deep enough. He doesn’t quite fully embrace it, always falling back on the exchange of who is pummeling who. There are a few times it feels like we’re building to a punchline, something that will show us who Gritt is under that superhero exterior, but it always pulls back at the last moment. Jordan Johnson, as artist, brings fluidity and a real sense of character to these moments when Milne loses his way in the fighting. What is Gritt’s hook? And if that hook is true, what else is true about him? Does he fight dirty? Is his thing to let the other characters weaken themselves fighting him until someone who can handle the bad guy swoops in? Embrace one of these things and build off it. We don’t quite get clear idea of Gritt in these areas. It has potential, but I’d really push Milne to take this really interesting idea he has and explore it more.

Sprit’s Destiny #1
Spirit’s Destiny is a coming-of-age story that starts off with a really intriguing relationship: a father superhero sneaks into his ex-wife’s home to do something to their child. He injects the baby with something. The couples’ relationship is intriguing in its complexity.

Cut to the future, and that baby, Destiny, is now in high school. She has a streak of grey hair, and she is a trouble maker who doesn’t have a very good relationship with her mother (the wife from the opening). She’s grounded, sneaks out, and something bad happens. Dorphise Jean (writer) brings in all of the elements, but aside from the opening, Destiny isn’t explored in a way that really highlights why this character is different or special. Obviously, she is, but we need to see why. It can’t just be that she has super powers (which probably won’t be revealed until next issue). What does she want, what drives her, and how does she go about getting what she wants? Getting into a fight at school isn’t enough to fill this in. What is she already good at, and what is she bad at? If this is to be a story about this character, these are things we need to know and we need to know right away. There are intriguing ideas at play here, and undertones of the mother-daughter relationship is a big one. Stronger choices need to be made and embraced. I really liked the look and feel of the book. Artists Edwin Galmon, Saint Yak, Richard Perotta, and Alexander Malyshev all do excellent work, and the colorist, Alexander Malyshev, ties it all together nicely.

Lots of intriguing ideas here.

Moros #1
This, I think, is the standout of the bunch. Josh Lucas has given us a futuristic film noir, a hard-boiled superhero detective story. He’s interested in the anti-hero, someone willing to embrace their darkness to fight against the evil in the world.

Detective Ed Knight has reached an impasse with the bureaucracy of law enforcement in his attempt to go after the local mafia. A new drug has hit the streets that gives its users immunity to pain, and when dealing with junkies, killers, and murderers, this is not a good thing for the local community, nor is it a good thing for justice when the mafia rules. Detective Knight has had enough, pulls out his old superhero suit, and juices up to fight fire with fire. Though juicing up puts him in the line of fire of his own department. Lucas does a great job in giving us a solid vision of the world and Detective Knight’s place within it. There are a couple of storyline leaps – like the final hook comes a little too easily and quickly – that perhaps needed a little fine tuning. Tamal Saha’s artwork is cinematic and produces the proper effect. I would love to know who colored it, because the gradient work is also well done. Moros is a strong undertaking that I hope has the chance to continue. I’d like to see the talent grow with the story, becoming stronger in all regards.

Until next month: Remember to support the indies. You never know when you’ll find that gem.

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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