Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review - Interceptor # 1

Recently billed as the most successful Kickstarter that they've had at Unstoppable Comics, issue # 1 of Interceptor is the latest reading fare to make its way to me, from the realm of comicdom. Hither, now, comes my review of it!

Regardless of Interceptor # 1's billing as Unstoppable Comics most successful Kickstarter to date, make no mistake - it is not Unstoppable Comics' best comic book produced, to date.

Far from it, in fact.

However, I quantify that statement by pointing out that the issue, itself, proclaims August 2014 as its actual time of creation, even though the Kickstarter project for this issue didn't end until December 19th, 2014. Thus, there's a span of four months to account for, when weighing and assessing and comparing Interceptor # 1 to other comic books by the same company.

For example, another comic book that they published, one that I recently reviewed - namely, Unstoppable Origins # 4: The Origin of Dr. Zero - asserts September 2014 as its time of creation, even though I read and reviewed it prior to ever reading Interceptor # 1. So, unless Unstoppable Comics got the dates wrong on the inside pages of its own comic books, from a creation point of view, Interceptor issue number one strikes me as an earlier product than The Origin of Dr. Zero. As such, this helps me to reconcile what I feel are some of the shortcomings with Interceptor # 1.

Before I go into greater detail of the issue's respective strengths and weaknesses, I would preface my remarks-to-come with a simple statement that I enjoyed reading the comic book. Rest assured, by this point in time, I count myself as a true fan of Unstoppable Comics. I look forward to each of their new comic books, as they come out, and I think that, by and large, they are doing a very respectable job of publishing what I feel are quality comic book products.

That said, I have no qualms about criticizing various instances of what I feel are points of weakness in the end product that they are putting in the hands of comic book readers.

The credits page of Interceptor # 1 lists the following individuals as being responsible for the comic book that I have just read and am now reviewing. Respectively, they are:

Brandon Easton - Writer
Russ Leach - Illustrator
Michael Summers - Colorist
Letterer - JayDee Rosario
Richard Rodriguez - Editor
Max Dunbar - Variant Cover

Issue number one of Interceptor is a mixed bag, one that leaves me a bit miffed. On the one hand, it contains a select few instances of panels that are spot on the money for being top notch. On the other hand, the bulk of what we see in the panels that collectively comprise the various pages of this comic book do not even remotely rise to that level of praise worthiness.

Interceptor # 1 isn't terrible. It's really not.

But, neither is it terrific.

Instead, it is a mish-mash, a veritable hodgepodge of middle ground accomplishment.

Of the individuals listed in the credits for this comic book, the one that I, personally, think should come in for the least criticism is Max Dunbar. After all, his contribution to the effort that was this issue is confined to the variant front cover for it.

The pre-order front cover does a pretty good job of crafting a visually interesting front cover. It visually entices me, somewhat. It doesn't reach out and grab me, nor does it make me drool with excitement, when I look at it. But, for the most part, the front cover works. It serves its purpose. It gets the job done.

It's job only, though. What it does not get done are the other jobs - namely, the jobs attributed to the other individuals previously listed, above.

Max's variant cover grabs my eye, with Interceptor in running form in the foreground, as a giant Union Jack dominates the background. It's not a better, not more visually interesting, alternative to the pre-order version of the front cover for this comic book, but it does embody more visual energy than its more visually interesting counterpart.

Overall, Russ Leach manages to churn out some pretty decent artwork. This issue was not a stellar performance by Russ, to be certain, where the artwork is concerned, but I will say this for him - his work is consistently good, with much of it being well above par, compared to what you usually find scattered throughout the independent comic book industry.

None of Russ's artwork in this particular issue is terrible. None of it is really even bad. Rather, the biggest visual drain on the artwork rendered by Russ Leach for Interceptor # 1 is the coloring that accompanied it.

Not that I want to say that colorist Michael Summers was the real villain of this issue, but yeah, he was. Sorry, Michael, but it's true.

And that is where the greatest mystery of issue # 1 of Interceptor lies. The great unknown is not the magical ley lines that writer Brandon Easton has dangled before us. Rather, it's how Michael Summers' coloring can vary so greatly across the pages of a single issue.

What the Hell is going on here, guys?

This particular issue runs the coloring gamut from excellent to ho hum. In other words, it's a consistency issue.

I do not believe that Interceptor # 1 is a sterling example of Russ Leach's most imaginative drawing, as an illustrator, but from page to page from front page to last page, Russ Leach's artwork is rendered consistently better than Michael Summers' coloring.

Two of the four panels on the first page of this story are rock solid eye candy, both from a drawing perspective and from a coloring perspective. The other two are little more than an exercise in coloring mediocrity. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about, either.

The villain, Throttle, gets issue # 1 off to a good start.

Colorist Michael Summers' crowning glory for this issue is his treatment in colors of the character known as Throttle, although there are some instances of Interceptor that make Michael's work as a colorist shine.

The far more interesting, Throttle, beating up on Interceptor.

Brandon Easton's contributions as the writer for this issue are successful, all things considered. But, the story that he tells, while it gets the job done, does not make me clamor for more. It was an interesting story. It was OK. It was all right. But, it doesn't make me want to subscribe to Interceptor, compared to how I was left feeling after reading Unstoppable Origins # 4: The Origin of Dr. Zero.

There, somebody needed to slap JayDee Rosario around, and make him stay in a room until he delivered the next issue of Dr. Zero to us. Here, I'm more interested in seeing what Unstoppable Comics comes out with next, more so than I am in following the further adventures of Interceptor. Blame me, if you like, but that's what you guys at Unstoppable Comics made me feel, where Interceptor # 1 is concerned.

Interceptor carries a shield called Pridewynter.
On the editing front, Richard Rodriguez did a better job on the story part, than he did on the punctuation front. The editing needs more attention to detail, but for whatever flaws that it may have, ultimately, it's a very readable story. It's easy to follow, and it's legible.

Which leads us into the lettering, and to my main man over at Unstoppable Comics, the illustrious Jaydee Rosario.
Is this the real JayDee Rosario??

Interceptor # 1 makes use of narrative boxes, something that was noticeably absent from Unstoppable Origins # 4: The Origin of Dr. Zero. Perhaps credit for that should go to the editor, rather than the letterer, but that particular quibble aside, the lettering suffices to get the job done.

At times, it feels a slight bit cramped, relative to the size of the speech bubbles utilized in select instances, but none of it rises to the level of critical.

Far better that the lettering be legible than that it be a visual parade of horribles - as is often the case with comic books published by independent publishers across the comic book industry.

Of course, there is that opening narrative box that is quasi-pale red with yellow lettering - which was definitely not lettering's finest moment.

But, the grand bulk of the lettering is presented with black text in a white speech bubble, which yields solid visual contrast, so that the simple act of reading a comic book doesn't become a form of visual torture.

I like this!
In terms of the special effects lettering presented here, issue # 1 of Interceptor is no tour de force of visual delight. Instead, once again, readers are given the mixed bag treatment. Not horrible, but nothing that rises to a visual majesty. Rather, what we are treated to largely seems to be content to just get the job done.

This, not so much.
This issue of Interceptor continues Unstoppable Comics' apparent tradition of injecting interesting concepts into its storylines. I liked the ley lines concept a lot, and I also liked the link between Interceptor's shield and the famous sword of literary fame, Excalibur. The Axis of Neverwynter also caught my eye and my interest.

But, when all was said and done, I was more interested, as a reader, in one of the villains - Throttle - than I was in the hero, Interceptor.

The villain, Grave Walker, fell flat with me.

Grave Walker in action.
As with many things in the superhero genre, Interceptor # 1 struck me as being more worried with creating an origin story for a character, than in simply telling an interesting tale in a very interesting way.

Sure, it's interesting, because it is new to me. The characters are new, and the story, itself, is new. But, beyond that, it doesn't really win me over to the title's namesake character, nor does it persuade me

that the title, itself, is worth following, as a series.
Rather than drawing me into a compelling storyline, Interceptor # 1 leaves me feeling distant. It's not outright boring, but neither is it particularly exciting. Instead, it is interesting, but interesting with a touch of the mundane.

Nonetheless, for all of its flaws and shortcomings, Interceptor # 1 doesn't make me like Unstoppable Comics, any the less. Each issue presents its own set of challenges, and overall, my impression of the company is a very positive one. I don't have to look forward to what Interceptor is doing next, in order to still be very interested in what Unstoppable Comics is coming out with next.

Publisher: Unstoppable Comics
Brandon Easton - Writer
Russ Leach - Illustrator
Michael Summers - Colorist
Letterer - JayDee Rosario
Richard Rodriguez - Editor
Max Dunbar - Variant Cover

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