Monday, April 6, 2009

Random Floppy Review: THE INCREDIBLES

BOOM! Studios must be the only publisher making money this year. While everyone else is cutting back they're crazy enough to launch a new line of Disney licensed titles. The BOOM! Kids imprint consists of three new titles all out in comic shops this month - THE INCREDIBLES, THE WORLD OF CARS and THE MUPPET SHOW. They've also signed on with Kable Distribution Services to make sure the titles get some good old fashioned newsstand distribution. Just think, these comics will actually be available to kids everywhere and not just comic shop customers. Speaking of, THE MUPPET SHOW and THE INCREDIBLES have already sold out of specialty shops and are going into second printings. This is all great news for BOOM! Studios specifically and the comic book industry in general. But are the books any good? This week I'll review all three first issues, starting today with THE INCREDIBLES -


It's hard to find a better working superhero writer than Mark Waid. He's delivered some of the best modern superhero tales for The Big Two. Since he's now the editor-in-chief of BOOM! Studios it would be downright criminal to give THE INCREDIBLES to anyone else. As expected, he's up to the task. Issue 1 hits the ground running with the family immediately taking on the villainous robot Futurion and his dinosaur army. I'll say that again - Futurion and his dinosaur army! This is the kind of battle every kid dreams of while playing with their action figures. The story balances this kind of action with the suburban family humor as adeptly as the film. It's a quick read and by story's end we're left with a traditional cliffhanger as Mr. Incredible confides in his best buddy Frozone that he is rapidly losing his super powers (a secret he doesn't want to share with the wife). Is our hero manifesting signs of sexual impotency brought on by an existential crisis as he grapples with his role of banal suburbanite or is there some really cool villain stealing his powers with a radioactive Extracto-Ray or something? We'll have to wait and see.

The storytelling is simplified in large sparse panels with few words. Normally I kvetch and gripe about this type of thing as it's usually used to stretch out a tale to as many issues as possible. But there's no cynical grab at maximizing sales here. It's a stylistic choice utilized to welcome five-year-olds into our cult of superhero fandom. That's not to say Marcio Takara's art couldn't stand a bit of a tweak. It's very loyal to the design of the cartoon. And the cartoon designs are very awesome indeed. But it lacks it's own personality. Look at the covers to see what I'm talking about (There are FIVE variant covers. Who says the 90's are over?). Mike Oeming's four-part cover series pictured above adds a vibrant and original flavor to the design. Mrs. Incredible's pa-dunk-a-dunk is spectacular!* A little more creative license on the interior art could take this series from very good to incredible (Ohhh! You see what I did there? With the word and the thing?). All in all, THE INCREDIBLES makes for an excellent intro to superheroes.

*Full disclosure: I've known Mike personally for years, but seriously - look at those covers? Am I lying?

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