Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: N/A
Written by: Benjamin Raab & Deric A. Hughes
Penciled by: Greg Kirkpatrick
Inked by: John Lucas
Colored by: Allen Passalaqua
Lettered by: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor: Ashley Miller
Published by: Ludovico Technique
Are you tired of the standard superhero adventures that Marvel and DC are putting out? I have to tell you, the last year or so has seen me gravitate away from the “Big Two” and look for something a bit more fresh. That’s not to say that DC and Marvel aren’t putting out good books; there’s plenty of great stuff coming from them. There’s a lot of stale stuff too. Thankfully, the past couple of years have seen companies like Image, Moonstone, Beckett, and Dark Horse come up with some really original titles.
Originality is becoming increasingly difficult in the comic industry–especially when it comes to superheroes. It’s all been done in one way or another. Hell, characters like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man have seen just about every type of story told through their countless adventures. Some of my favorite recent launches have been high-concept ideas that go a step beyond the usual superhero faire that’s being done on a monthly basis. Titles like Phil Hester’s The Atheist, Eric Powell’s The Goon, Beckett’s Fade From Grace, and Troy Hickman’s Common Grounds are brilliant concepts that use some traditional superhero or comic trappings and go a step beyond to tell a truly original story.
Living in Infamy looks to be on the same ground as those other books. The basic concept is as solid as they come. Super villains that turn states’ evidence are placed into the government’s witness protection program. Where do they end up? Infamy, Arizona is the answer. Those placed in protective custody can’t make a run for it, though. Explosives are hard-wired into their brains that will go off if the villain steps foot over the city limits. That basic premise grabbed me! Anytime you can explain your concept quickly, keep it interesting, and not lose me, you’re on your way.
Since the concept is so good, you next need to populate the world with a memorable cast. Ben Raab and Deric Hughes do just that. The cast for a debut issue borders on being unwieldy, but in the end there are just enough shady characters. The former villain the Masked Mentalist is now the mayor of Infamy. You’ve got a two-bit Mafioso named Dizenzo. Plus, there’s Chiller with, well his powers are what you’d expect. We’ve also got Tom Blackbridge, who is, I don’t think you’ll call him our hero, so let’s just call him the protagonist. Tom’s called The Mechanic a couple of times, so his powers may be something along the lines of Mayor Hundred in Ex Machina, but it’s not quite clear yet.
Now, when I heard about the concept, I was expecting something rather zany. Was I ever wrong. Living in Infamy is character centered in a big way. Raab and Hughes go for heavy dramatic tension and setting up their world in this first issue. The pair shows their writing chops by laying down their concept, presenting their characters, and introducing a big mystery all in the first twenty-two pages. The characters go beyond being simple stock characters. Raab and Hughes inject the characters with real lives, families, and backstory. This is a four-issue miniseries, so there’s not a lot of room to waste time. I’m thrilled to say, there isn’t a wasted panel in Living in Infamy #1.
Since this isn’t a prose novel, there’s got to be artwork to go with the story. And it’s great stuff! Greg Kirkpatrick has brought the wide range of characters in Living in Infamy to life. The super villain aspects are well presented, but the tone is more Good Fellas or The Sopranos in its presentation. Kirkpatrick’s got a nice handle on facial expressions and sets the scene very well.
The concept is good, the character are well realized, the plotlines interesting, and there’s an A+ artistic effort. Living in Infamy is worth checking out!
I was told by Ben Raab that Living in Infamy #1 will be debuting at the San Diego Comicon later this week. Check it out at the Antarctic Press booth.