Friday, May 7, 2010

Stealth #1 - Review

The Pilot Season continues to roll as Robert Kirkman uses Top Cow’s game show, of sorts, to roll out a stack of his ideas and see which one will stick with an audience. This week we have the release of Stealth, which sports a nice Marc Silvestri superhero flying right at you on the cover. It's about a superhero who really isn't all he appears, and how this impacts his family. Top Cow were kind enough to hit me up with a review copy so go on and hit the jump to see what I made of the issue.

Stealth #1
Written by Robert Kirkman
Pencils by Sheldon Mitchell
Inks by Joe Weems V and Rick Basaldua
Colours by Arif Prianto of IFS

Right from the cover, we’ve got Stealth, looking all bad ass and kind of reminding me of an illegitimate off-spring of Archangel and Spawn in all his Silvestri glory. It’s a simple image and upon closer inspection you see that he doesn’t really have any legs, just a silhouette of sorts that is toned darker the further down you go. Honestly, I’d expect nothing less.

The story opens on Todd, a middle aged guy, divorced, missing his ex-wife, and discussing his “pet project”. All signs point to Stealth who we meet in the next double splash of iconic and silent poses. He launches down and busts some kids tagging a wall, even though get some time to expose that they’ve heard of him from their fathers (so Stealth must have been around for some time) and that they’re in awe (so he’s obviously a pretty cool hero, too). Then Stealth busts them up good anyway, he don’t take no guff from no one. It’s a simple sequence with no real delight of dialogue at all.

Todd walks into his house and hears a thud, he goes upstairs to find that his father is standing in his room in the Stealth armour. This is no real surprise, quite honestly, as all signs just point to it being him. We do, however, find out that Todd’s old man has Alzheimer’s and thinks his son is actually his brother Eric. This is interesting but I don’t think this is really the major hook for this title. It may have been the initial concept, the spark, but it’s not the entire sell.

We get more of an idea that Todd’s world has fallen apart, an ex-wife he still pines for, a daughter at uni whose only connection is asking for money, a life looking after his father and his problems. Nothing is easy for Todd and while that is mildly interesting we still aren’t at the hook.

We cut to Stealth in a compromised position, he looks like he’s having a heart attack while out on patrol and luckily Todd turns up and tells him to go home. When he arrives to talk with his father it’s the same old routine (thinks Todd’s the his brother not son, it all hurts Todd so much) and there is a rapport between the father and son that is mildly heartbreaking to watch. It may lead to some great scenes and scenarios later but none of that greatness is on display here. It’s relatively old hat, though still interesting. I guess stock standard would be one way to play it.

The final scene is Stealth absolutely hammering some guy. He’s obscured from identification but he’s got the same hair and you know where it’s going. Todd is getting his ass handed to him by his father and you know that’s gotta hurt on so many levels. Stealth finally realises what he’s done and that’s sad but we still don’t’ have the hook. He breaks down and cradles his son while crying and then drops the hook on us. He says that the men who gave him his powers/armour, the men with the light, are coming back. They’re coming to fix him. The next splash of a strange comatose and curled up woman falling into Earth’s atmosphere is either the last page of the comic, and if so is brilliant as it heralds a twist and a hook for this story, or else it’s simply an ad for the next Kirkman outing in Pilot Season, Stellar (which is advertised at the bottom of the page). I’m taking it as being the final page and thus really raised my interest in this whole tale.

Stealth getting his armour from these men from the stars is interesting. That these men are returning in the form of a solitary woman in a shiny pink outfit and no other discernible means of travel is even more intriguing. This subplot resonates with me the most, which is a shame because it only really takes up two pages of this comic. The rest of the story, the Alzheimic superhero father and the downtrodden son are fine, if you like that sort of thing, but throw in some cosmic alien force/entity with an interest in Earth and it all comes together. What’s their game? Why is there only one coming? Will they recruit Todd? Will Todd turn villain, of sorts, just to stop his dear old dad? Dad keeps mentioning a brother, one who knows/knew everything about Stealth, named Eric; surely Eric has to play a big part in all of this. There are lots of questions raised by the comic but most of them only raised in the last two pages.

Verdict – Check It The story ends on a beat where I actually want to know where this is heading. I guess this is what Pilot Season is all about, I just wish this first issue was better, or cheaper, and then more people could be hooked. I don’t want to have to wait 20 pages before getting something new and exciting. I guess it was all character work that had to be done, but perhaps it could have been done differently, I don’t know, I’m not anywhere near as good a writer as Robert Kirkman is. Don’t forget, he’s done some pretty awesome stuff. I’d suggest giving this title a try if you’ve got the spare cash and are inclined to try new things. It’s a shame that there’s no guarantee that this will be the title that gets picked up from Pilot Season, but I know it gets my vote.

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R_ said...

"ah, this is where internet people fail, do your research..."

Just kidding, of course. Thought the rest of your review was spot on. I haven't really loved any of these Pilot Project books. Although, the art is beautiful and Kirkman's way with dialog is enough to keep me interested.

Ivan said...

Interesting premise, old superhero with Alzheimer's. Again, too bad I have no way to check t out.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@R_ - Ha, and my words get remembered, repurposed, and given bite. To bite MY ass, oh, sweet irony! I am hoping that people can now amend my review in their minds, if that page was my saving grace then this should show that the issue has not been redeemed for me. And, as such, I do not really recommend it. What a shame, I thought that page would fit awesomely. Now, I think those men from the stars are just in Stealth's mind and so nowehere near as interesting.

Even worse, I bought that initial Pilot Season $1 comic that showcased all of the different titles they would be coming up with but I don't have it anymore because I gave it to my nephews (because I always arrive as the uncle bearing comics) and so couldn't find it.

Thanks for the link...I think...ha.

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