This tie in to DC’s recent (not likely) Final Crisis¬ miniseries focuses on hero Mark Richards dealing with his rise to local fame in his home town after his assistance in the fight against Darkseid’s Justifiers in the aforementioned Final Crisis. Now, Mark acts as neighborhood watch against local gangs and police corruption.
The issue starts off with the words “This is a love story,” and that’s what it is. Mark struggles with the love he has for his family and his need to protect them, which may conflict with one another. Throwing in his sense of duty as a so-called superhero to focus on stopping the criminal plot at hand, friction builds between Mark and his wife and kids. In particular, the issue begins with Mark saving his son from two super-powered baddies, just to immediately have him thrown in jail. This issue does a good job showing that struggle between one’s love and responsibility to family and one’s duties to the community.
Mark isn’t a traditional DC superhero. He has no tights or cape, opting instead for simple street clothes. He operates pretty much in public and is known throughout his neighborhood. He really does act more like a super-powered, down-to-earth neighborhood watch than the traditional caped crusader one may think of when one thinks DC. It’s nice to see a more common man superhero in a world traditionally filled with living legends.
Characters may drag the story down a bit though. In particular, Mark’s wife seems oddly uncooperative, given Mark’s current situation in both the criminal plot he’s working to stop and his powers acting oddly. Given, having one’s son thrown in jail may cause some justifiable anger, but she seems especially quick to jump to conclusions against Mark.
This is really a Final Crisis tie in only in name only. The main connection would be Mark’s prominence he’s gained after helping during Final Crisis, but otherwise, the overall miniseries is pretty standalone. This particular issue would benefit from reading the prior two of the miniseries though, at least to show a murder that’s discussed and to elaborate Mark’s connection to the neighborhood. However, it’s odd to see Final Crisis on the top of the book right as DC is already in its next bit event, Blackest Night. Perhaps yet another sign that DC (and its notable competitor) should probably slow down on these overarching events.
This issue has a very painted look. Detail is not the name of the game here. Coloring is. Michael Demota’s colors definitely don’t always stay within Fiorentino’s lines. The coloring has a very soft and splotchy look, bleeding over lines and characters. Mark’s animated tattoos have an aura that is portrayed as color bleeding out from their character art. It seems almost graffiti like.
A strong color theme seems to be hot versus cold. In many scenes, shades of blue are in contrast with shades of reds and yellows. These scenes often have some sort of conflict in them, although not necessarily the fighting kind. There is conflict between Mark’s abilities and his family life, conflict between civilians and gang members and even conflict between the Richards family and the community. Mark in particular utilizes both hot and cold coloring, being shaded mostly in yellows and then reds the more he is worked up, while being mostly blue in his more quiet moments. Contrasting these hot and cold colors really emphasizes the conflict and the emotions in these scenes.
The lining itself is light, looking sketchy at times. Combine that with the color already bleeding through, and the coloring really overpowers the lining. It would be interesting to see the penciled or inked version of some of these pages, prior to the coloring process, just to see how they stand up without all the color to add the impact it does.
The backgrounds and settings are very simplistic. They look very unrefined, like a quick sketch. Of course, given this issue’s affinity for bleeding color all over a place, there isn’t much of a need to detail a brick building when it’s all just going to be shaded yellow.
This coloring style works for the book. Unfortunately, because of the soft bleeding colors, some of the bright and clean sound effects and word bubbles stand out a bit too much like a sore thumb. They don’t look as well integrated with the art as they could be. The same is true with a couple of computer screens and one or two instances of text in the background.
The unique art works for the book, but the added sound effects and word bubbles could have used better integration.
Overall (Not an Average)8/10